The Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros (SAPS) is one part of the larger Siqueiros Project. The other is La Tallera, (The Workshop), in Cuernavaca to the city’s south. With its two sites, the Siqueiros Project concentrates on research and promotion of the aesthetic, political, and pedagogical legacy of late artist David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896 – 1974).
The larger Proyecto Siqueiros supports dialogue between “heterogeneous” artistic and academic communities. They also include the social and civic commitment that Siqueiros himself kept over the course of his very long career.
Both the Polanco location and Cuernavaca workshop are properties owned by the artist. These were donated along with his documentary and ethical art collection. The Polanco building was built in 1958 by architects Jorge Guerrero Arocha and Luis Saviñón Velasco. The artist inhabited it for only a short time as he was imprisoned in the Lecumberri prison for some time in 1964, and moved to the Cuernavaca home in 1965. He re-opened the site as a “Public art salon” (Sala de arte público) in 1969 believing a museum would have sounded too institutional. His notion of public art – art with a social function and with political commitment − accompanied many of his other projects.
Siqueiros made extensive modifications to the building in order to better meet his intent to further the theory and practice of the Mexican Muralist movement. He then donated the building to the public, in 1973, only 25 days before his death in 1974. His own collection of paintings, sketches and engravings, an important photographic and documentary archive, and a vast library also made up part of the donation.
SAPS then operated as a popular arts center until the mid-1980s, but by the time of the artist’s death in 1989, it had gone into serious decline. At that point, the Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros was taken over by the The National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature (INBAL) which assumed responsibility for both facilities.