Dead and Pressed Into a Diamond, Can Luis Barragán Now Bargain for the Return of His Papers?

THE DAILY PIC: At the San Francisco Art Institute, Jill Magid wants to trade the dead architect Luis Baragan for his archive.

THE DAILY PIC (#1630): Famous gems often matter more for their backstory than for weight, color or clarity, and the artist Jill Magid has set about weaving quite a tale around this two-carat blue diamond—hardly massive, but worth more than its weight in stories.

Chapter One: Magid had the stone itself made from the compressed ashes of a dead architect.

Chapter Two: She had the words “I am wholeheartedly yours” etched into it with a laser.

To take in the rest of Magid’s story, you’d need to head to her exhibition at the San Francisco Art Institute, which commissioned the piece and where it goes on view this weekend. (Or you could make a start by reading the recent New Yorker story on the artist. On September 14, Magid and others will be discussing her project at the New School in New York.)

Here, I’ll just explain that the great Mexican architect Luis Barragán did not guarantee the future of his firm’s papers, and that they were bought two decades ago by a Swiss furniture executive, supposedly as a gift for a wife who has not made them public since. Magid’s piece is called The Proposal: It proffers her ring, and the little remnant of Barragán it contains, in exchange for the return of those papers to the architect’s native land. (Courtesy the artist, LABOR, Mexico City, RaebervonStenglin, Zurich, and Galerie Untilthen, Paris; photo by Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen/Stefan Jaeggi)

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