UC Berkeley to loan Diego Rivera fresco to SFMOMA exhibit

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UC Berkeley is loaning a fresco by prominent Mexican artist Diego Rivera that is currently displayed at Berkeley’s Stern Hall residence hall to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for its upcoming exhibit, “Diego Rivera’s America.”

The fresco, Still Life and Blossoming Almond Trees, was painted at Rosalie Meyer Stern’s estate in 1931 and depicts people working in the orchards while Stern’s grandchildren enjoy the fruits of their labor. Upon Stern’s passing, it was bequeathed to Berkeley and installed in Stern Hall, the campus’s first residence hall for women.

“We are extraordinarily proud that it has a home on the campus and enriches the daily lives of the women who live in Stern Hall,” said Jo Mackness, assistant vice chancellor and CEO for the Division of Student Affairs.

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Restoration of the painting began last week, and the fresco will be transported to SFMOMA today, March 22. The exhibit, open from July 16 through the end of 2022, will provide an in-depth presentation of Rivera’s work in Mexico and the U.S. from the early 1920s through the early 1940s.

While on loan, the Berkeley fresco will be the centerpiece of a section that examines the projects and social networks in San Francisco of Rivera and Frida Kahlo, another well-known 20th century Mexican artist.

The fresco is crucial to the success of SFMOMA’s project, said SFMOMA director Neal Benezra.

“We are delighted that we can support the museum and share this beautiful work of art with the community,” Mackness added.