The Arrow Lands (Again): GAP Mogel Builds Own Museum in the Presidio

Ouch (maybe).

According to my bretheren over at SFist (via the Associated Press) and a more substantial piece in the New York Times, Donald Fisher, founder of the GAP, plans to build a 10,000 square foot museum in the presidio, just beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. “I’m concerned about what happens to the collection,” quoth Fisher to the AP. “I don’t want to turn around and sell it, and I don’t want it to be sold when I pass away. I’d like it to be seen.” To the Times: “I want to have a little curatorial fun while I’m living.” Such heartfelt sentiments…let’s build this man his own art museum!

In a few brief paragraphs, the AP struggles to qualify why, exactly, the city needs this museum: The 1,000-piece collection includes Warhol, Alexander Calder, Roy Lichtenstein and Gerhard Richter! “Experts believe the collection could fetch more than $1 billion in today’s buoyant art market!” SFMOMA’s director, Neal Benezra, plays nice nice with the Times, deeming the Fisher collection “one of the most important in the world.”

Fisher plans to open the space in 3 years, after it undergoes an “environmental review” and receive approval from the park’s board. The proposal for a 100,000 square-foot building, 55,000 of which will be devoted to galleries, will be unveiled next Wednesday, according to the Times. Does this mean that Fisher’s light saber is longer than cupid.jpgLuke Skywalker’s? How else might one score a spot in the presidio, not to mention the permission to plop Claes and Coosje’s Cupid’s Span in Rincon park?

I’m picturing the scene from Vertigo where Kim Novak (a.k.a. Madeleine) took a dive into the Bay, and imagining that view completely obstructed by some monstrosity designed by…Gluckman Mayner, who did the Andy Warhol Museum (my fondness for which may or may not result more from nostalgia—I’m from the ‘burgh—than the building). Given the city’s track record of architectural fuck-ups (MOMA), I’ll be interested to watch Fisher’s pipe dream burn on. Hope remains. Incidentally, that San Francisco lays claim to GAP headquarters is one of the city’s greatest ironies, and if this is how San Franciscans manhandled the store on Haight Street, I can only imagine what might befall an entire museum.

Yes, there are possibilities here. But why oh why must Fisher—and as a result, the Times—position the project as having a hometown focus? Benzera, again to the Times: “It’s a Who’s Who of the great figures of contemporary art.” “If you’re interested in those artists, you’ll have to come to San Francisco.” Of course art institutions are considered points of civic pride; any city’s tourist guide will direct its visitors to them. When privileging the city equally alongside the art while announcing an institution’s imminent presence to a national and global audience, however, the subtext is one of mild desperation. And we complain about being dismissed…

Case in Point:

Art for Our Sake: PLAN: 1,000 square feet for works that have mostly been seen only by art world [SF Gate] Kenneth Baker describes the Fischer collection relative to other collections of its ilk; little analysis otherwise.


The former GAP building on Haight Street following the Haight Street Fair on 11 June. Image courtesy Metroblogging San Francisco

Cupid’s Span rendering courtesy


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Filed under Built Environment, Contemporary Art, Criticism, San Francisco

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