Bio : Art Students League of New York
The Art Students League of New York is a legendary art school founded in 1875 by a group of artists who broke away from the National Academy of Design, determined to experiment with new techniques and forms of expression. Excluded from established galleries, the students decided to create a center that could be a home to radical artists and ideas. Funded by philanthropist George Washington Vanderbilt II and designed by architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, the League opened their doors at 215 West 57th Street on December 4, 1892.
For over a century, the League has served as an incubator, school, creative haven, studio and gallery for artists, dedicated to fostering independence and non-conformity and providing accessible, affordable and high-quality education and instruction in the fine arts.
Artists who have studied at the League include Georgia O'Keeffe, Norman Rockwell, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, James Rosenquist and Ai-Weiwei, among others. Today, thousands of aspiring and emerging artists study drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking and mixed media at the League.
About Executive Director Michael Rips:
Michael Rips has lived his life with a passion for the arts. He is a collector, patron, arts advocate, and author. He is a friend to many artists and the spouse of a painter and sculptor. Becoming the Executive Director of the Art Students League marks the next phase in Michael’s life-long commitment to studying, sharing, and supporting the visual arts.
Collector and Patron Michael began collecting as a teenager in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, where he scouted out rare items in pawn shops. Since that time,
Michael has built an extensive collection of works of African and contemporary art. He and his wife, the artist Sheila Berger, have donated work from their collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Princeton University Art Museum, and the KANEKO and Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha.
Michael is an attorney by profession. In additionto clerking for Supreme Court Justice William Brennan and representing clients before theSupreme Court, Michael has spent a significant portion of his law career supporting the arts. He is a leading expert on artists’ rights, copyright, and intellectual property issues.
Michael has represented many artists, museums, and foundations. Michael’s clients have inluded artists James Rosenquist and David Salle, the Queens Museum, the Estate of Dan Flavin, and Dia Art Foundation. Michael played a leading role in the founding of Dia:Beacon in Beacon, New York. His efforts helped transform the city of Beacon and the Hudson Valley into a vibrant arts destination. At the New School University, Michael conceived, developed and headed a project team for a graduate school devoted to government service. Michael is a graduate of Princeton University, Oxford University, and George Washington University Law School.
Michael first came to know of the Art Students League during his childhood in Omaha. Michael’s father, Nick, enjoyed painting, and Michael recalls League alumnus and instructor Arnold Blanch, a modernist painter connected to the Social Realist movement, visiting his family. Impressed by Blanch and his stories, Michael gained a deep respect for the League that continues to this day. Michael gave the presentation speech at the League’s 2016 Gala honoring alumnus James Rosenquist, his friend and legal client. Sheila Berger, Michael’s wife, has studied and worked in the League’s sculpture studios since 2011. Her work AVIS GLORIAE ET LAVDIS MMXVI was a highlight of the League’s 2016-17 Model to Monument installation in Riverside Park South and is currently installed at the Key West International Airport on the Florida Keys Art Trail. Michael and Sheila plan to return to their home in the Chelsea Hotel after renovations are completed in 2018.
Michael has written frequently on the arts, including an April 2017 New York Times Op-Ed arguing that artists should be able to take a tax deduction for the fair market value of donated works of art. Michael has also authored two works of literary non-fi ction: Pasquale’s Nose and The Face of a Naked Lady: An Omaha Family Mystery, the latter of which revolves around a group of mysterious paintings, and which Joan Didion called “an amazing, beautiful book.”