Diego Rivera Mural to Get Landmark Status, Blocking Potential Sale

On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 11-Zero to begin the tactic to designate a beloved Diego Rivera mural as a landmark after the San Francisco Art Institute, which owns the $50 million portray, talked about that promoting it’s going to assist repay $19.7 million of debt.

Designating the mural as a landmark would severely prohibit how the 150-year-old establishment could leverage it, and public officers behind the measure say that promoting it’s presumably to be off the desk for now. Removing the mural with landmark standing would require approval from metropolis’s Historic Preservation Commission, which has broad authority.

“There’s a lot of money in this town,” talked about Andrew Peskin, a board member from the district the place the institute resides and a sponsor of the proposal. “There are better ways to get out of their mess than a harebrained scheme of selling the mural.”

During a public listening to on the selection on Monday, officers of the Art Institute objected to the thought. Pam Rorke Levy, chairwoman of the Art Institute board, talked about, “Landmarking the mural now, when there is no imminent threat of it being sold, without sufficient consideration of S.F.A.I.’s position would deprive S.F.A.I. of its primary and most valuable asset.”

The 1931 work, titled “The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City,” is a fresco within a fresco. The tableau portrays the creation of both a city and a mural — with architects, engineers, artisans, sculptors and painters hard at work. Rivera himself is seen from the back, holding a palette and brush, with his assistants. It is one of three frescoes in San Francisco by the Mexican muralist, who was an enormous influence on other artists in the city.

Years of costly expansions and declining enrollment have put S.F.A.I. in a difficult financial situation made worse by the pandemic and a default on a loan. Last July, a private bank announced that it would sell the school’s collateral — including its Chestnut Street campus, the Rivera mural and 18 other artworks — before the University of California Board of Regents stepped in to buy the debt in October. Through a new agreement, the institute has six years to repurchase the property; if it doesn’t, the University of California would take possession of the campus.

Faced with the threat of foreclosure, school administrators have searched for a suitable buyer, although Ms. Levy has said that the school’s “first choice would be to endow the mural in place, attracting patrons or a partner institution that would create a substantial fund that would enable us to preserve, protect and present the mural to the public.”

Last month, Ms. Levy floated two possibilities with board members and staff. One involved the filmmaker George Lucas’s buying the mural for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles. (The museum said it would not comment on speculation about acquisitions.) Another would have seen the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art take ownership of the mural but leave it on campus as an annexed space.

But a museum spokeswoman said that nothing came from early discussions. “We have no plans to acquire or endow the S.F.A.I. mural,” Jill Lynch, a communications officer with SFMOMA, told The New York Times.

Source link Nytimes.com

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