The Quest for a Guggenheim – Budget, Notification, Rejection and Closing Remarks

The Quest for a Guggenheim – Budget, Notification, Rejection and Closing Remarks

Part 4 in a 4 part series…

Around April 10 the formal announcement will be made. The Fellowship awards vary, so no telling what they will give you. But figure on average about $50,000 more or less coming your way.

If your application is rejected you will receive an email a few days before the announcement of the Fellows for that years Competition.

Here is my rejection notification…


The rejected applicants portfolios will start being returned in May. It may take many months to get your portfolio back. Two months have gone by and I’m still waiting for the return of my photographs. When I contacted the Foundation to inquire about the return shipment I was told they only have one person to handle the return shipping and she was  swamped.

If you are successful you will be asked to submit a budget. I’d advise to take your time and submit a detailed budget. Don’t just blow it off as I would do with a cavalier…send me whatever you want to.

Since money is secondary to my art, I don’t like to spend much time on anything that takes me away from my work. I look at it as a distraction and have a hard time forcing myself to do things I don’t want to do…and playing accountant is top on the ‘not interested in’ list. I live very fugally and if I have enough money to just get by and still be able to do my work I am happy.

This tendency to concentrate on one’s art to the exclusion of almost everything else is a common one for those truly dedicated to their work. W. Eugene Smith was a good example of this trait. No time for anything else other than trying to stay alive so he could keep pressing the button.

Back in Smith’s time you could get a place in NYC for $25 a month or less.

Here is Smith’s famous ‘Jazz Loft.’

W. Eugene Smith mr (2)

When Smith needed money he would pawn his gear. I read he died with $18 in the bank.

W. Eugene Smith pawn ticket

Even so, Smith gave us many priceless photos over his career.

W. Eugene Smith mr (3)

Smith did not want to waste money to fix a window. Instead he used it as a matte box to shoot through.

W. Eugene Smith mr (1)

But the reality is this…Smith’s selflessness and dedication to his art are not valued much nowadays. At least not in a world of 2 billion cell phone cams at large.  All people want to see are the photos, then onto the next zillion photos to view.

If your looking to bring home a Guggenheim, the budget is just another way you can show you are a conscientious and detail oriented person to the Foundation. So, if you are successful and are asked to submit a budget…do better than me and take it seriously.

The budget can include living expenses, assistants, gear travel and most anything connected with your project. The printing costs of a book connected with your project would not be acceptable. The Guggenheim is not to be used as you would a Kicktstarter fundraiser.

There are many books and sites that can advise you about the whole process from finding grants to writing the budget. Here is just one book…get them for free from your library.

The Foundation used to ask current Fellows to recommend future grant prospects to be solicited. I don’t know if that is still the policy nowadays, as there does not seem to be a shortage of applicants.

Here is a large collection (124 pages) of archival correspondence from the Foundation that covers a number of areas.


I don’t hold grudges and I appreciate all the work the Guggenheim Foundation has done. So, after I was informed of my rejection I wrote the Foundation and offered them a gift of approximately 250 letter size archival pigment prints from my 2 pitched projects (Piercing Darkness & The Americans…60 years after Frank) as a donation to the Foundation. The prints would be spiral bound in the form of 2 hand-printed artists’ books…I never received a reply from the Foundation.

If your rejected for the Guggenheim, don’t take it personally. About 95% of the applicants are rejected. Suck it up and know you are part of an illustrious group of great artists that have been rejected as well.

Here are just a few of them…

Jack Kerouac

Frederic Prokosch

Berenice Abbott

Ellis Wilson

Les Krims

Francesca Woodman

Angelico Chavez

Well, this brings me to the end of the series. I’d advise you to look seriously at applying for a Guggenheim.

The application is free, you can apply yearly – you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Ellis Wilson had to apply for 4 years before he was awarded a Fellowship. Others will never receive a Fellowship, even with a lifetime of applications.

Always remember, expectations are preplanned resentments. No matter what the outcome with your Guggenheim quest, if you do your art for love…you will never be disappointed.

Do great work, be persistent and best of luck with your own quest for a Guggenheim!


Women of the Beat Generation Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection

Girls of the Beat Generation

A forthcoming six volume artists’ book series by social documentary photographer Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

A complete list of artists’ books by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.