Robert Arneson's Portrait of George (Moscone)

SFMOMA curator Gary Garrels tells the story of Robert Arneson's infamous portrait of former San Francisco mayor George Moscone. The sculpture has had a tumultuous history: Commissioned in 1981 for the opening of Moscone Convention Center in downtown San Francisco, it commemorates the life and death of the mayor, who along with supervisor Harvey Milk was killed at city hall on November 27, 1978. Shortly after its unveiling the portrait created a firestorm of controversy due to its open acknowledgment of the violence of the mayor's assassination. The work was ultimately rejected by the San Francisco Arts Commission and returned to the artist. It joined SFMOMA's collection in spring 2012, after several years in private hands.

  • Materials courtesy of the Robert Arneson estate, Ira Nowinski, and Oddball Film + Video.
    © Estate of Robert Arneson / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
    "Robert Arneson at work in his studio", 1981; © Ira Nowinski

  • Total running time: 4 min. 35 sec.

  • Featured Artist: Robert Arneson
  • SFMOMA Release Date: May 2012