By Pamela Cruz. Peninsula 360 Press [P360P].
Ten years after his first stay, Diego Rivera returned to San Francisco in June 1940 to headline the main fine arts exhibition at the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island.
Thus, after more than 80 years, in partnership with City College of San Francisco (CCSF), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is presenting the Panamerican Unit, by Rivera at the Roberts Family Gallery.
Beginning this Monday, June 28 and continuing through the summer of 2023, the work will be on view on Floor 1 with free access to the public. The mural will then return to CCSF to be installed in a new performing arts center.
It was in 1940 when the great Mexican muralist worked on scaffolding in an airplane hangar before a live audience. The formal title of the piece is "The Marriage of Northern and Southern Artistic Expression on this Continent," however, it is commonly known as Pan American Unity, his last mural done in the U.S.
The fresco depicts in colorful detail a past, present, and future that the artist believed were shared in North America, calling for cultural solidarity and exchange during a time of global conflict.
Completed with the support of local artists and assistants, with scenes of the Bay Area as a backdrop, the mural celebrates the creative spirit through portraits of artists, artisans, architects and inventors who use art and technology as tools to shape society.
After the fair, "Pan American Unity," which measures twenty-two by seventy-four feet and weighs over sixty thousand pounds, was moved to the City College of San Francisco (CCSF) campus.
This was possible because Rivera painted this fresco not on a wall, but on ten steel-framed cement panels.
"I think that to make an American art, a true American art, this will be necessary, this mixture of the art of the Indian, the Mexican, the Eskimo, with the kind of impulse that makes the machine, the invention on the material side of life, which is also an artistic impulse, the same impulse mainly but in a different form of expression," Diego Rivera said during an interview in 1940.