Published: Jul 16, 2009
Lacoste is a beautifully preserved medieval village and vibrant art community of about 300 inhabitants.
SAVANNAH, Ga.—The Savannah College of Art and Design is pleased to announce a gift of $1 million from the William Talbott Hillman Foundation, in Pittsburgh, Pa., to the university's location in Lacoste, France
. William Hillman, artist, Lacoste alumnus, and president of the Foundation, has directed this gift to the restoration of the Maison Basse, a complex of historic properties, to enable the expansion of SCAD Lacoste's educational and cultural programs there. The William Talbott Hillman Foundation grant is the largest single monetary gift ever awarded to SCAD Lacoste; overall restoration of these properties is estimated at $3 million.
"This generous gift from the William Talbott Hillman Foundation is very important to the future growth and expansion of our location in Provence," said Barry M. Buxton, vice president for special projects at the Savannah College of Art and Design. "A gift of this magnitude enables SCAD Lacoste to expand its capacity for students and faculty by approximately 20 percent and preserve a historically important complex of buildings once owned by the Marquis de Sade. The gift also reinforces the commitment of the university to host visiting artists and designers from around the world and to enhance the cultural life of residents in the region."
Situated in the Luberon Valley of Provence, between the villages of Lacoste and Bonnieux, the Maison Basse is a remnant of medieval European life and agrarian activities. The primary historic association of the Maison Basse is with the Marquis de Sade and his family, who owned the property and much of the adjacent valley until the French Revolution in the late 18th century. The restored Maison Basse will provide significant new space for studio classes, seminars, lectures, demonstrations and exhibitions.
Nancy Herstand, member of the Savannah College of Art and Design's Board of Trustees and former chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Lacoste School of the Arts in France Inc. said, "Bill Hillman's leadership gift to help renovate and restore the Maison Basse reflects his long-term commitment to the Lacoste School, founded by artist Bernard Pfriem in the early 1970s, and now an important part of the Savannah College of Art and Design. Bill's time as a student there profoundly influenced his development as an artist, and over the years, he has generously supported its ongoing needs. In 1997, he helped purchase the Maison Basse so that the school could more adequately fulfill its mission in future years."
The Lacoste School of the Arts in France Inc. was initially affiliated with and accredited through Sarah Lawrence College, then became affiliated with the Cleveland Institute of Art from 1981 to 1996. Following Bernard Pfriem's death in 1996, the academic program was affiliated with Bard College from 1997 until 2001. In 2002, the Lacoste School of the Arts in France Inc. merged with the Savannah College of Art and Design. As part of the merger, SCAD agreed to make substantial investments in the historic campus and to address a variety of deferred maintenance issues.
William T. Hillman lives in New York City and is the founder of Affirmation Arts, an art advocacy institution and gallery located at 523 W. 37th St. in New York. City. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States and abroad. A graduate of Princeton University, Hillman holds an M.B.A. from Columbia University and also has studied at The Art Students League of New York and the Lacoste School of the Arts in France. He was previously chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Lacoste School of the Arts and is an emeritus member of SCAD Lacoste's European Board of Visitors.