Just as the dust is settling on the relocation of Gap founder Donald Fisher’s contemporary art collection to a new wing at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, he died yesterday of cancer at his San Francisco home. He was 81.
After giving up a controversial plan to build a private museum in the Presidio, a national park, Fisher and his wife, Doris, settled on a plan to loan the collection, one of the world's great collections of modern art—1,100 works by major contemporary figures like Calder, de Kooning, Diebenkorn, Warhol and Lichtenstein, as well as living artists Cy Twombly, and Brice Marden—to the SFMOMA. Under the agreement, the Fishers, will create a 25 year renewable trust to oversee the care of the collection, and an expansion intended to triple the institution’s gallery space will house the collection as well as art from the museum’s holdings.
The couple began their retail dynasty in 1969 with no retail experience when Fisher and his wife tried to exchange a pair of men's Levis that didn't fit and couldn't find a store in the city that sold the size they wanted. Fisher, a San Francisco native, was a 41-year-old real estate developer at the time. They invested $63,000 in a retail outlet on Ocean Avenue, calling it the Gap, Doris Fisher's shortened version of "generation gap," in August 1969. Today the Gap has more than 134,000 employees at 3,100 stores in 25 countries, with sales of $14.5 billion in fiscal 2008.
(c) 2009 - Ruth Mitchell - all rights reserved