The Vera List Art Project was launched at Lincoln Center in 1962 by philanthropist and art collector Vera List. A pioneer in the fields of contemporary patronage and art education, Vera was deeply engaged with the projects she supported; never one to simply write a check, she proposed innovative programs which would shape cultural institutions like the New School, the Jewish Museum, MIT, and the New Museum (which she helped to found). In particular, her vision and commitment helped to develop Lincoln Center into a true intersection of the arts, both visual and performance.
Vera firmly believed in the power of art to transform its surroundings, which is why she insisted that the Lincoln Center have a strong program for the visual arts, and committed substantial funding towards that goal. Vera and her husband Albert facilitated the acquisition of works by artists like Jasper Johns and Henry Moore for Lincoln Center, encouraging like-minded patrons to contribute to what would become the Public Art Collection.
Vera’s ambitions for Lincoln Center stretched beyond one-time donations; she wanted to establish something that could grow along with this new cultural hub. Her vision would be realized in the Vera List Art Project, a program that initially commissioned contemporary artists to create posters for Lincoln Center’s events. Bridging the gap between the visual and performing arts, the program invited artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein,Robert Indiana and Robert Rauschenberg to create posters to advertise and commemorate events from film screenings to operas. This initiative took the art out of Lincoln Center and into the streets, where it could be appreciated by the general public.
Noticing how popular the posters were becoming, in 1970 she decided that there should also be premium limited-edition prints. Signed-and-numbered by the artists, these stand-alone works of art could be sold to benefit the education and performance programs at Lincoln Center, a novel idea at the time.
Bearing witness to five decades of American contemporary art, the Vera List Art Project has produced between four and six signed print editions each year. Vera personally oversaw the project from the very first commission in 1963 up through 1974. In a nod to her visionary legacy, the Vera List Art Project commissions artists to this day, with recent prints from Chuck Close, Karen Kilimnik, William Kentridge, and Barbara Kruger to name a few. Proceeds from the sale of these prints continue to benefit Lincoln Center's innovative cultural programming.
Fifty years after the founding of the program, Lincoln Center celebrates Vera List’s grand vision and builds on her dedicated efforts through a new program - Public Art at Lincoln Center - a multi-faceted arts initiative that reclaims the rich legacy of artist commissions and site-specific projects across Lincoln Center’s 16-acre campus. The program was launched with a public presentation of Christian Marclay’sThe Clock in the summer of 2012.