On January 27, 2021, internationally renowned visual artist Shimon Attie, MFA, was formally installed by President Maurie McInnis as the inaugural holder of the Charles C. Bergman Endowed Visiting Professor of Studio Art.
Charles C. Bergman dedicated his life to philanthropy and to improving the lives of others around the world. His deep understanding of people’s individual struggles was evident throughout his career, as he often acted quietly but effectively behind the scenes to help people from many walks of life, from clergy and psychotherapists to rising young artists.
In 1984, Gerald Dickler, Lee Krasner’s attorney, approached Bergman about the execution of Krasner’s will, in which she expressed her wish to create a foundation to support visual artists around the world. He hoped Bergman would help lead the formation of the foundation, and eventually oversee its operation. Bergman’s reaction was characteristically humble and grateful. “There are no words to describe what it meant to me to be able to create, from scratch, an instrument of this generosity and impact on the lives of others,” he said.
So began the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. From that moment until his death in 2018, Bergman guided the Pollock-Krasner Foundation with great wisdom and generosity, eventually leading the organization to become one of the world’s most prolific benefactors of cash grants to worthy individual artists in need.
As chairman and CEO of the Foundation, Bergman provided nearly 5,000 grants totaling $79 million to working artists and visual arts organizations around the world — including Stony Brook University’s Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center.
The Foundation’s relationship with Stony Brook University began more than three decades ago, when Bergman helped deed the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center to the Stony Brook Foundation in accordance with Lee Krasner’s will. Since that day in 1987, Bergman and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation have provided steadfast guidance and support to the House and Study Center, initially with an annual grant and eventually by establishing an endowment through a matching challenge grant.
In 2018, in honor of Bergman’s devotion to the arts and to the Pollock-Krasner House, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation established the Charles C. Bergman Endowed Visiting Professorship of Studio Art in the College of Arts and Sciences at Stony Brook.
“The establishment of this professorship further solidifies the relationship of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation to Stony Brook and the House and Study Center,” said Kerrie Buitrago, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation.
At the core of this partnership is a beautiful vision,” said Buitrago. “It involves legacy and learning. The professorship will help to extend the legacy of Pollock and Krasner. It will keep Pollock and Krasner alive in the minds of coming generations. And we also honor Charles C. Bergman’s memory and lifelong commitment to the arts.”
“The Charles C. Bergman Endowed Visiting Professor will be a leader in expression and steward of the special relationship between Stony Brook and the Foundation, organizing student and community events at the very House that Charlie Bergman and the Foundation helped preserve,” said Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis. “I couldn’t be more proud to formally invest Shimon Attie as our Inaugural Charles C. Bergman Endowed Visiting Professor. Professor Attie knows well the critical work that expression and education can, and will, do to help us move through our contemporary world both as a collective and as individuals.”
A recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation’s coveted Lee Krasner Award, Attie has received numerous visual artist fellowships throughout his career, including from the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the American Academy in Rome and The National Endowment for the Arts. He was inducted into the National Academy of Design in 2018.
As the Charles C. Bergman Endowed Visiting Professor of Studio Art, Attie will share his talent, vision and inspiration with the next generation of young artists at Stony Brook.
“Unfailingly generous with his advice, understanding and encouragement, Charlie cared deeply about the well-being of the artists whom the Foundation supported,” said Helen Harrison, the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Director of the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center. “It’s therefore appropriate that the Pollock-Krasner Foundation has partnered with Stony Brook to memorialize Charlie by establishing this professorship, which enables distinguished artists to mentor the next generation of creative visionaries. I know he would have been delighted that Shimon Attie is inaugurating it.”
Attie will honor Bergman’s legacy with pride and gratitude.
It is a true honor for me to be appointed as the inaugural Charles C. Bergman Endowed Visiting Professor of Studio Art,” said Attie. “The Pollock-Krasner Foundation has been a staunch supporter of my work for many years, and I’m incredibly grateful to them for the resources they have provided to me and thousands of other artists over the years, allowing us to advance our practice. I look forward to working with the University’s Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center to develop programming that supports the legacy of Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock.”
— Kate O’Brien