Famed Labor Murals Reproduced at SF State

Thursday, September 07, 2017
Image of Victor Arnautoff mural depicting people near refineries in Richmond

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE -- San Francisco State History Professor Emeritus Robert Cherny, who may be the world’s foremost Arnautoff expert and wrote the book, Victor Arnautoff and the Politics of Art, on which this show is based, had never seen the original in anything larger than a photograph before he came by the Labor Archives and Research Center in the new campus library.

“It’s much more impressive full-size than on a computer screen, which is all I had ever seen of it,” says Cherny, who curated the exhibit. “Seen full-size it is quite spectacular and his use of color is strikingly vivid. ... It’s a particularly good example of his work. It picks up some of the same themes that you see at Coit Tower; and you see a downtown Richmond that doesn’t exist anymore.”

Though photographed and printed on vinyl, “it is very close to the original in both texture and color,” Cherny adds.

The mural has a notched bottom to fit over the postmaster’s door. McCrary already has a place on the museum wall picked out for it but it may take a while to get there because she needs to raise $50,000 to cover the restoration. She has a graduate degree in Museum Studies from San Francisco State, and knew that Cherny was at work on a book on Arnautoff. That’s what led to the mural’s debut in the campus library.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to showcase it and raise awareness,” McCrary says. “More people are going to see it and learn about it there than in Richmond.”


Victor Arnautoff and The Politics of Art, September 13 – December 12

Image: A photographic reproduction of this 1940 Victor Arnautoff mural of Richmond, California, will be on display at an exhibition at SF State’s Special Collections Gallery beginning September 13.