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Don and Doris Fisher

View segment on Fisher Collection at SFMOMA. Produced by Spark for This Week in Northern California. Original air date: June 2010. (Running Time: 6:04)

The Fisher Collection of Contemporary Art is widely considered to be one of the most impressive private art collections in the world. Beginning in June 2010, a preview entitled Calder to Warhol: Introducing the Fisher Collection debuts in a major exhibition during a three-month presentation at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Calder to Warhol is culled from the more than 1,100 works collected over four decades by Doris and the late Donald Fisher, founders of Gap.

Part of the museum?s yearlong 75th anniversary celebration, the preview of approximately 160 works by artists such as Alexander Calder, Any Warhol, and Chuck Close marks the arrival of the collection at its new home after multiple years of controversy surrounding its fate. The Fishers initially sought to build a new museum to house the collection in San Francisco?s Presidio, but the project was ultimately stymied by community opposition. In September 2009, an agreement to house the collection at SFMOMA was reached just days before Donald Fisher?s death.

Begun in 1969 as a collection of graphic art prints to decorate the offices of their then-small retail company, the Fisher Collection grew into one of the world?s premiere private art collections as the apparel company expanded from a single San Francisco storefront into a multibillion-dollar household name. Choosing to select works themselves instead of relying on brokers, the Fishers as collectors have been noted both for the personal manner in which they added items to their holdings and for their talent at selecting important works from key moments in the decades-long careers of some of the 20th century?s most respected artists.

The collection includes works from 1928 to the present by 185 American and European artists and represents movements ranging from pop art to minimalism and photorealism. It is especially esteemed for its large number of career-spanning works by Alexander Calder, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Chuck Close, Gerhard Richter, and Andy Warhol.

The preview exhibition alone will occupy the entire fourth and fifth floors of SFMOMA as well as its recently opened Rooftop Garden. In coming years, the museum plans to undergo a large-scale expansion project in order to house the massive collection alongside its current holdings. Many art experts and enthusiasts expect the presence of the Fisher Collection at SFMOMA to put the museum on par with such internationally recognized institutions as the Museum of Modern Art in New York and London?s Tate Modern.

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