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Copyright architecture, art and photos © The architects, the artists, San Francisco Airport.




The permanent collection of contemporary artwork at the San Francisco International Airport is provided by the Public Art Program of the San Francisco Arts Commission as part of the city’s per-cent for art ordinance, which mandates up to 2% of the construction costs of new capital improvement projects be expended on art enrichment.

In the decade from 1977 to 1987, over 50 major works of art were purchased or commissioned for specific sites in the North, South, and Central Terminals, making the Airport art collection one of the largest and most comprehensive of its kind.

The development of a public art program within an airport facility presented the San Francisco Arts Commission with a unique opportunity and challenge. With access to more than one million square feet of public space in which to exhibit artwork, the Arts Commission acquired works of diverse style, scale, and media. The program focuses on work by Northern California artists, but also includes a rich variety of art from Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Among the artists represented in the collection are works by Joan Brown, Roy de Forest, Sam Francis, Robert Hudson, Larry Kirkland, Seji Kunishima, Manuel Neri, Isamu Noguchi, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Raymond Saunders, Wayne Thiebaud and William Wiley.

In 1997 the Airports Commission began construction of a major expansion of SFO, which includes a new international terminal and two new international concourses. Scheduled to open in the summer of 2000, this new expansion has enabled the Arts Commission to commission 17 new major works of art by both local and national artists. Included are works by Vito Acconci, Juana Alicia and Emmanuel Montoya, Squeak Carnwath, James Carpenter, Enrique Chagoya, Lewis deSoto, Viola Frey, Su-Chen Hung, Mildred Howard, Joyce Kozloff, Rupert Garcia, Carmen Lomas Garza, Ann Preston, Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel, Rigo 2000, and Keith Sonnier.



  1. New San Francisco International Terminal under construction. Opening date July, 2000.
  2. Wayne Thiebault, 18th St. Downgrade, 1978; oil on canvas 60" x 48".
  3. Sam Francis, Untitled, 1980 acrylic on canvas, 276" x 348".
  4. Larry Kirkland, Flight Patterns, stainless steel cable, painted aluminum tubing, sheeting and screening, 264" x 276" x 756".
  5. Sieji Kunishima, Stacking Stones, 1978, Nose Stone, 140" x 42" x 42".
  6. Marc Katano, Greeting a Totem, oil on canvas, 108" x 78".
  7. Nance O’Banion, Billboard Series, 1981, handmade abaca paper, and bamboo; 144" x 180" x 120".
  8. Charles Ross, Light Lines, 1985-86 12 acrylic prisms, 9’ x 9’ x 96" each.

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