A landmark new collaborative initiative for the art world to combat climate change launches

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A landmark new collaborative initiative for the art world to combat climate change launches
Cecily Brown, There'll be bluebirds, 2019. Oil on linen, 134.62 x 170.18 cm. 53 x 67 in. © Cecily Brown. Courtesy of the Artist. Photo: Genevieve Hanson. Estimate £500,000-700,000.

LONDON.- Arts industry lobbyists Gallery Climate Coalition, global auction house Christie’s (a GCC member), and environmental charity ClientEarth announced Artists for ClientEarth: a landmark new collaborative initiative designed to propel the art world in the fight against climate change. Exceptional works by major international artists, including Cecily Brown, Antony Gormley, Rashid Johnson, Beatriz Milhazes and Xie Nanxing, will be placed for auction in Christie’s 20th / 21st Century marquee sales in London, New York and Hong Kong over the next year, generously donated by the artists and their galleries – Hauser & Wirth, Thomas Dane Gallery, and White Cube – to raise funds directly in support of ClientEarth. A parallel programme of talks and education will provide collectors and art world professionals access to the vital work that ClientEarth undertakes to create systemic change to protect the planet.

Cecily Brown’s There’ll be bluebirds, 2019, will be the first work to be offered in this series of seven sales. The painting, depicting an enigmatic bird within a whirlwind composition made up of Baroque strokes in a furious ‘melee’ of fleshy tones, is being placed in the 20th/21st Century Evening Sale in London in October, with a pre-sale estimate of £500,000 – 700,000. There’ll be bluebirds was debuted in the artist’s solo exhibition at Blenheim Palace in September 2020. Crucially, each sale will offer works that are local to that location as far as possible, thereby cutting down on shipping – a key source of carbon emissions produced by the art world.

Gallery Climate Coalition has undertaken this initiative for ClientEarth in acknowledgement that, while the commercial art world contributes to the climate crisis, it is also a prime potential source of positive and meaningful change, both through systemic transformation of industry practices and through supporting and highlighting the important work that others are doing. In March 2021 Christie’s made a pledge to be net zero by 2030, and to become a member and patron of the GCC.

Partnering with ClientEarth moves the conversation forward and presents a critical opportunity to galvanise the art world through philanthropy, action and education. ClientEarth approaches the climate crisis in a unique and systemic way, by using the law to challenge industries, corporations and governments that are involved in the most polluting activities. ClientEarth’s team of specialist lawyers in hubs in Europe, Asia and the US use their skills and training to, among other things, block new coal power plants from being built, force governments to clean up air pollution and pressure leading multilateral lenders to withdraw funding for fossil fuels. The GCC and Christie’s have come together with ClientEarth to raise money, awareness and support from the art world for this essential work through the Artists for ClientEarth initiative.

Antony Gormley says: ‘The law must be enforced and strengthened in order to protect what we have always taken for granted: the creatures, plants, and people on which the future of the planet relies. I am delighted to be supporting ClientEarth in all its tenacious, vital work.’

Beatriz Milhazes says: ‘ClientEarth works with great respect within each situation, whether conserving the forests or fighting to stop coal-fired power stations, local communities are always at the heart of their work. This is essential action that needs support.’

James Thornton, Founding CEO, ClientEarth says: ‘At ClientEarth, we use the power of law to build a brighter, healthier future for people and nature to thrive together. We use law creatively to drive systemic change, and rebalance the power between people, governments, and industry. Art and culture will thrive when people and nature are defended. So we are passionate about bringing environmental protection into the heart of the art world. That’s why we are so thrilled by the support for our mission by Christie’s and the Gallery Climate Coalition through Artists for ClientEarth. It is a truly great pleasure for ClientEarth to be associated with and supported by the outstanding works of these artists.’

Artists for ClientEarth will launch with the sale of There’ll be bluebirds, 2019 by Cecily Brown at Christie’s evening sale in London on 15th October, with Rashid Johnson to be featured in the New York sale and Xie Nanxing in Hong Kong, both following in November 2021. Antony Gormley, Beatriz Milhazes, and further artists to be announced soon, will be presented in the February and June sales in 2022.

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