UCLA Gets $20 Million Donation From Gallerist and Alumna Margo Leavin

It's the school's largest single gift to the arts from an alumna.

Margo Leavin. Courtesy photographer Joe Schildhorn, ©Patrick McMullan.

UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture‘s efforts to expand and rebuild its graduate student studio facilities has received a major boost from alumna Margo Leavin. The pioneering gallerist, who operated Los Angeles’s Margo Leavin Gallery from 1970 to 2012, has donated $20 million to the project, the largest gift to the arts from a graduate in UC history.

“I am grateful to be in the position to contribute and hope that my lead gift will inspire others to join me in supporting the construction of the graduate art studios so that we can give artists the environment, facilities, and support they deserve,” Leavin in a statement. “It’s time to get back to the basics—without artists there would be no art world.”

In honor of her contribution, the university’s art complex will be renamed the UCLA Margo Leavin Graduate Art Studios. Housed in a former Culver City wallpaper factory, the building will boast a 38,000 square-foot expansion by local architectural firm Johnston Marklee, also responsible for the forthcoming Menil Drawing Institute in Houston. It will have 40 percent more usable space, with exhibition galleries and an artist-in-residence studio, including a “covered, outdoor arcade, garden and sculpture yards,” according to Sharon Johnston of Johnston Marklee.

A rendering of the planned covered garden at the UCLA Graduate Art Studios. Courtesy of UCLA Arts.

A rendering of the planned covered garden at the UCLA Graduate Art Studios. Courtesy of UCLA Arts.

Leavin graduated from UCLA with a psychology degree in 1958 and became a private dealer in 1967, selling prints by Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenburg, and other big-name artists. At her eponymous gallery, Leavin hosted over 500 exhibitions, presenting solo shows by John Baldessari, Lynda Benglis, John Chamberlain, Donald Judd, Ellsworth Kelly, Sherrie Levine, Agnes Martin, and David Smith, among others.

Construction on the UCLA Margo Leavin Graduate Art Studios is slated to begin next year, and will be completed in time for the university’s centennial in 2019.

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