The American Federation of Arts (AFA) is delighted to announce that the recipients of this year’s Cultural Leadership Awards are collectors and philanthropists Charles and Valerie Diker and artist William Wegman. The awards will be presented at the AFA’s annual gala by Alice Walton, Chairwoman of the Board of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and Jeff Rosenheim, Curator in Charge of the Department of Photography at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The event will take place on October 26 at the Metropolitan Club in New York City. Proceeds benefit the distinguished exhibitions toured to museums nationwide by the American Federation of Arts.
“The incredible generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Diker in donating their vast collection of Native American art to The Metropolitan Museum of Art exemplifies a strong commitment to making art both accessible and comprehensive. Such an initiative is remarkable in its potential to foster engagement and understanding. Mr. Wegman’s ability to move fluidly and successfully through various media creates a dialogue around illusion and intention. In particular, his paintings incorporate a sense of humor while challenging expectations of space,” said AFA Director Pauline Willis.
Over the past forty years, Charles and Valerie Diker have assembled one of the most renowned and comprehensive private collections of Native American art. In 2015, selections from their esteemed holdings were featured in the AFA exhibition, Indigenous Beauty: Masterworks of American Indian Art from the Diker Collection. By gifting over one hundred works from diverse traditions and aesthetic forms to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the couple is helping to address a significant gap in the museum’s collection. It is certain that the couple’s generous gift will fuel greater recognition and appreciation of Native American art and artists, and help them gain entrance into a wider understanding of American art. The Dikers have long been prominent leaders in the arts. They are founding co-chairs of the National Museum of the American Indian’s George Gustav Heye Center, and Mr. Diker is a generous supporter of the Harvard Art Museums and also serves as a trustee of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.
William Wegman is a photographer, painter, and writer who first became known for the pioneering video work he created in Los Angeles in the 1970s. He received a BA from Massachusetts College of Art, Boston and an MFA from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. Since the early 1970s, his work has been exhibited at galleries and museums internationally, including such important exhibitions of conceptual art as When Attitudes Become Form at Kunsthalle Bern in 1969 and retrospectives of his work which toured museums in Europe and the US including the Centre Pompidou, the Walker Art Center, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He is probably best known for his work with Weimaraners, a collaboration which began with his dog Man Ray in 1971 and which continues to this day. He has created numerous books for adults and children and he and his dogs have appeared on Sesame Street, Saturday Night Live, David Letterman, Charlie Rose and The Tonight Show. Recent projects include the book William Wegman: Being Human (Thames and Hudson/Chronicle), and William Wegman: Dressed and Undressed, an exhibition surveying over thirty years of his photographic work.
The AFA Cultural Leadership Awards are given annually to an artist, museum leader, or philanthropist in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the art community. Previous recipients have included: Marina Abramović, Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Rosa & Carlos de la Cruz, Milton Esterow, Frank Gehry, Wade Guyton, Arnold Lehman, Wengechi Mutu, Shirin Neshat, Roy Neuberger, Sarah Sze, Eugene V. Thaw, Alice Walton, and Kehinde Wiley.
For tickets to the 2017 AFA Gala & Cultural Leadership Awards, please contact Kristin Sarli at email@example.com or 212.988.7700 x 209.
About the American Federation of Arts
The American Federation of Arts is the leader in traveling exhibitions internationally. A nonprofit organization founded in 1909, the AFA is dedicated to enriching the public’s experience and understanding of the visual arts through organizing and touring art exhibitions for presentation in museums around the world, publishing exhibition catalogues featuring important scholarly research, and developing educational programs. For more information about the AFA, visit www.amfedarts.org.
Press Contact: Natalie Espinosa, 212.988.7700 x 205 or firstname.lastname@example.org