Press Releases


SFAI Receives Prestigious Grant to Digitize Recordings Featuring Some of the Most Prominent Names in 20th Century Art History

San Francisco, CA—San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) has been awarded a prestigious Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). With this grant of over $100,000, SFAI will digitize and make available online its Lectures and Public Programs Collection, a large and historically significant repository of audio and video recordings, transcripts, and ephemera documenting classroom and public lectures, symposia, and other programs that have taken place at SFAI since 1916.

The project, Thinking Out Loud: Digitizing 80 Years of Lectures and Public Programs at the San Francisco Art Institute, will bring to light a collection that offers rich resources for both academic scholars and the general public, with relevance to a range of disciplines, from art and art history to architecture, sociology, science, and more.

Highlights include:

  • Documentation of several influential roundtable discussions with artists, art historians, and critics, including the 1949 Western Round Table on Modern Art, featuring Marcel Duchamp and Frank Lloyd Wright, which was an important response to post-World War II outrage surrounding avant-garde art
  • The 1966 symposium The Current Moment in Art, where Wayne Thiebaud, Claes Oldenburg, Larry Rivers, Peter Selz, Walter Hopps, and Frank Stella, among others, discussed the pluralism of the mid-1960s art world
  • The 1977 First International Symposium of the Center for Critical Inquiry, in which panelists including George Lakoff, Angela Davis, and Allan Sekula addressed changing politics and aesthetics and a growing awareness of diversity
  • A series of landmark symposia focusing on multiethnic arts and issues of representation, organized by artist and scholar Carlos Villa in the late 1980s and 1990s
  • The 1994 symposium (un)Civil Wars: Queer Art, Criticism and Theory
  • Symposia focused on the conservation of major works of art held at SFAI including one organized around the restoration of Diego Rivera’s monumental mural The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City
  • Lectures by a remarkable range of speakers including John Baldessari, Marina Abramovic, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Robert Mapplethorpe, Laurie Anderson, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Chris Burden, Judy Chicago, Angela Davis, bell hooks, Vito Acconci, Christo, Hans Haacke, Yvonne Rainer, Kathy Acker, James Broughton, Andrei Codrescu, Robert Rauschenberg, and Carrie Mae Weems, to name a few

SFAI will fully digitize these materials and make them widely discoverable and accessible through its own website and the online platform CollectiveAccess.

“This grant is a great honor and particularly timely as SFAI prepares to celebrate its first 150 years in 2021—which really is the history of Modern Art, as well,” says Gordon Knox, President, SFAI. “Not only will it allow us to preserve unique scholarly resources, but people around the world will gain access to lectures and public conversations at SFAI that wrestled with the most urgent issues of their day, shining a multi-disciplinary lens on artworld developments and, conversely, bringing divergent voices together through art.”


About the Council on Library and Information Resources
The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


About San Francisco Art Institute
Founded in 1871, SFAI is one of the country's oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher education in the practice and study of contemporary art. As a diverse community of working artists and scholars, SFAI provides students with a rigorous education in the arts and preparation for a life in the arts through an immersive studio environment, an integrated liberal arts and art history curriculum, and critical engagement with the world. Committed to educating artists who will shape the future of art, culture, and society, SFAI fosters creativity and original thinking in an open, experimental, and interdisciplinary context.

SFAI offers BFA, BA, MFA, and MA degrees, a dual MA/MFA degree, a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate, and a range of exhibitions, public programs, and public education courses. Notable past faculty and alumni include Lance Acord, Ansel Adams, Kathryn Bigelow, Enrique Chagoya, Angela Davis, Richard Diebenkorn, Paul Kos, George Kuchar, Annie Leibovitz, Barry McGee, Manuel Neri, Catherine Opie, Peter Pau, Laura Poitras, Clyfford Still, and Kehinde Wiley.


Nina Sazevich
Public Relations