The earthquake last year in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince was an unprecedented catastrophe, killing over 200,000 people and leaving millions displaced. The task of rebuilding the country is a huge burden on the shoulders of the Haitian people, and international help is still greatly needed.
Actor and philanthropist Ben Stiller, along with art dealer and gallerist David Zwirner, have organized a high-profile art auction on Sept. 22 at Christie’s in New York to raise funds for children’s education and health programs in Haiti.
“Over a year after the massive quake in Haiti, there remains a huge need to rebuild and help the country,” Stiller said in a press release.
“With the generosity of Christie’s and the artists who have contributed pieces to the auction, David and I are working to help raise funds, so that the children of Haiti have an opportunity to receive the education they need to lead a better life and fulfill the potential of this vibrant and important culture,” Stiller said.
Many well-known artists have donated their works to the cause, including Chuck Close, Marlene Dumas, Dan Flavin (estate), Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, Paul McCarthy, Chris Ofili, Raymond Pettibon, Neo Rauch, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Luc Tuymans, to name a few.
“When Ben and I visited Haiti earlier this year, I immediately felt compelled to do something to help,” David Zwirner said. “The art world is a generous place, and I am incredibly thankful for the extraordinary support from the artists and the arts community.”
Haiti was already an undeveloped country before the disaster, with around half of school-aged children not receiving an education and over 60 percent of the population unable to access clean water. “Speeding up the reconstruction process is absolutely the priority for 2011,” said Nigel Fisher, deputy special representative of the secretary-general and U.N. resident coordinator and humanitarian coordinator for Haiti at a press conference in January.
All the profits will go to support nonprofit organizations already helping in Haiti, including Architecture for Humanity, J/P Haitian Relief Organization, Partners in Health, Grameen Creative Lab, and others.
There will be a preview exhibition at David Zwirner’s New York gallery in early September, and a special catalog will be produced. Christie’s has charitably set aside its commission fees for the sale.
According to Artistsforhaiti.com, the Stiller Foundation’s primary mission is to promote the education and well-being of Haitian children. Currently the foundation is working to rebuild four badly damaged schools in the Port-Au-Prince area. Other temporary-to-permanent structures have been erected as of the 2010 fall term, allowing hundreds of children to return to a safe learning space.