Category Archives: Photography

“Collected” at Pier 24 Photography

"Collections" - view of the Nion McEvoy gallery

“Collected” exhibition at Pier 24 Photography – view of the Nion McEvoy gallery


Richard Avedon, Bob Dylan, 132nd Street & FDR Drive, Harlem

Collected, the eighth exhibition at Pier 24 Photography in San Francisco, highlights a selection of photographs from the Pilara Foundation and nine other Bay Area collections:  The Bluff Collection, Susie Tompkins Buell, Winn Ellis and David Mahoney, Carla Emil, Randi and Bob Fisher, Dan Holland and Patrick Printy, Mike and Kaitlyn Krieger, Nion McEvoy, and Chara Schreyer. The collectors were invited to choose the work they wanted to show and each has a separate gallery space.

Pier 24 Photography

Joel Sternfeld, Aisle 2, Row 3, Seat 5, Texas Theatre, 231 West Jefferson Boulevard, Dallas, Texas, November 1993

Each gallery expresses the unique perspectives of the individual collectors and includes a wide variety of well-known and not-so-well known photographs and photographers.  The Bluff Collection has a survey of work by Robert Frank. Nion McEvoy’s gallery, entitled ‘Beauty and the Beat,’ includes 100 photographs mostly related to music, from album covers to rock portraits.  The Fishers decided to show only William Eggleston, and the Kriegers display experimental contemporary works. Susie Tompkins Buell’s gallery has an outstanding grouping of sensitive and deeply personal work by four women photographers:  Consuelo Kanaga, Alma Lavenson, Dorothea Lange and Tina Modotti.

Robert Frank, Funeral, St. Helena, South Carolina

Robert Frank, Funeral, St. Helena, South Carolina

None of the photographs are accompanied by titles or attributions but printed guides are available at the reception desk and there are a few docents in the galleries. You can preview the exhibition via an online version of the catalog.

Andrew and Mary Pilara began collecting photography 13 years ago and have amassed over 4,000 photographs.  In 2010, they leased and renovated the Pier 24 warehouse space to house their permanent collection and to present photography exhibitions and related programs to the public. At 28,000 square feet, it is the largest space devoted solely to exhibiting photography in the world.


Collected will be on view until January 31, 2017.  Pier 24 Photography is located on The Embarcadero in San Francisco below the Bay Bridge and is open by appointment only.  Make an appointment online, or call 415-512-7424. Admission is free, and only 30 people are admitted per 2-hour interval.

Arnold Newman at the Jewish Museum, San Francisco

Pablo Picasso, 1954

Pablo Picasso, Vallaurise, France, 1954

Arnold Newman:  Masterclass is on view at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco until February 1, 2015.  The retrospective exhibition includes 200 of Newman’s most famous portraits, as well as rarely and never-before exhibited still lives, architectural studies, cityscapes and early portraits.

Based mostly in New York, Newman was one of the world’s best known and most influential photographers. He worked as a freelancer for Life and other magazines and traveled the world to photograph artists, architects, authors, composers, scientists, fellow photographers and politicians.  Newman found his vision in the empathy he felt for artists and their work, and his photographs demonstrate complex layers of emotional, psychological and cultural significance.  In a press release about the exhibit, the Contemporary Jewish Museum wrote that “Artists delighted in sitting for Newman, knowing that he would find a way to convey their sensibility in a forceful, yet always appropriate, fashion.”

Salvador Dali, 1951

Salvador Dali, 1951

Newman created powerful studio shots, as exemplified by his famous portrait of Pablo Picasso in Vallaurise, France, 1954 (above, left).

His signature style, however, was ‘environmental portraiture,’ in which he captured the essence of his subjects by showing them in their personal surroundings using strong, graphic, black and white imagery to give insight into what made his subjects so successful.

“Every artist is a different human being, a different kind of person, a different kind of personality, a different kind of psyche, and all of this the photographer should reflect,”  Newman is quoted as saying in the exhibition catalog.  The surroundings had to add to the composition and the understanding of the person.

Igor Stravinsky, 1960

Igor Stravinsky, 1960

Newman was a master at composition and was meticulous about his work. In the beautiful, black and white portrait of Russian Composer Igor Stravinsky  (above),  the composer was seated at a grand piano which was strategically silhouetted against a blank wall to create the illusion of the lid as an abstract musical note.

Marc Chagall, 1956

Marc Chagall, 1956

“Whenever I want to photograph someone, I read about them. I read biographies. If they are painters or scientists, I know their work. This is all good. It prepares me to observe.” – Arnold Newman

Newman’s work can be found in major museums and private collections worldwide.  The Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission Street, San Francisco is open Thursday – Tuesday (closed Wednesdays) 415-655-7800


Arnold Newman

Secondhand at Pier 24

Secondhand at Pier 24

Matt Lipps, Untitled (Women’s Heads), 2010
From “Secondhand” at Pier 24

Secondhand is the current exhibition at Pier 24, up until May, 2015.   It features the work of over a dozen artists whose work is based on the appropriation of pre-existing photographs.  Admission is free, but you need a reservation.  At 28,000 square feet, Pier 24 is the largest photography-only venue in the world. It was founded by retired San Francisco investment advisor Andy Pilara, and much of the work on display comes from his extensive collection.  If you missed the last couple of shows, you can buy the gallery guides from Pier 24, or take a look at the catalogs on line posted by Chris McCall, the director:  A Sense of Place (7/1/13 to 5/1/14), About Face  (5/15/12-4/30/13)

Watermark, a film by Edward Burtynsky


Edward Burtynsky, 2010
Dryland Farming #2, Monegros County, Aragon, Spain 

Watermark, a recent documentary film by industrial landscape photographer Edward Burtynsky (Canadian, b. 1955) about how water shapes us, and how we shape water, is an astonishing and powerful work of art.   Don’t miss it…and if you can find it,  rent Manufactured Landscapes, a 2006 film about Burtynsky’s work.  Both films are visually arresting and magnificent portrayals of man’s impact on the environment, or as Burtynsky says “nature transformed through industry.”