Lannan Foundation was created by entrepreneur and financier J. Patrick Lannan, Sr. in 1960, and is “dedicated to cultural freedom, diversity and creativity.” The foundation expresses this dedication by overseeing grants and creating programming that supports contemporary artists and writers, as well as Native American activists working in “rural indigenous communities.”
Lannan Foundation supports contemporary artists by supporting the arts organizations that exhibit and disseminate their work—the foundation particularly likes to back programs that foster discussion and create audience outreach. Since its arts program was established in 1986, Lannan Foundation has distributed more than 400 arts grants to projects initiated by more than 200 organizations all around the United States. Grant funding through this program primarily manifests as support of exhibitions and publications, with all grants going to nonprofit organizations.
So who are the artists behind the exhbitions and publications? Lannan Foundation draws few explicit guidelines for qualification. Aesthetically speaking, the artist must be "exceptional." Logistically speaking, the artist must be in the "mid- to senior" stage of his or her career. Both of these qualifications are subjective, but Lannan Foundation doesn't explain them further.
So to define their meaning by example, here's a look at the contemporary visual artists the foundation has championed over the last few years by supporting the nonprofits that publish and exhibit their work: Michael Berman, Julian Cardona, Thomas Joshua Cooper, James Drake, Dan Flavin, Eva Hesse, Nancy Holt, Sol LeWitt, Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, Steve McQueen, Victoria Sambunaris, and Guy Tillim.
Lannan Foundation's website also goes back further into its granting history, so you can see even more grantees past. The foundation has an open LOI process, but requests that you get in touch before you submit, so familiarizing yourself with its previous grantees is a good way to prepare yourself for an initial phone call or email.