Friday, October 5, 2012

Pier 24

The other day I visited Pier 24, and utterly amazing "place to view and think about photography." It's also a very mysterious spot. Since it opened a year or so ago it seems hardly to have been publicized at all. Some San Franciscans, myself included, seem to have vaguely heard of it, and many not at all. And yet it's huge in scale--more along the lines of a small museum than an art gallery. And the caliber of work they're showing is outstanding. And while the perception seems to be that you can go there by invitation only, in fact it's by appointment only. Anyone can go, and it's free, and the appointments take about five seconds to make online (though, just to make things a little more cagey and odd, you can only make appointments for one person at a time--if you want to go with a group you each have to make your own separate appointment). And they only let in twenty people at a time, and did I mentioned that it's huge? so you more or less have the whole place to yourself for two hours. And when you get there it's almost totally unmarked from the outside and a security camera looks you in the eyeballs before you are let in. So basically what we have here is a semi-secret free museum of amazing, and I do mean amazing, photography. That almost no one seems to know about. Weird, right? And kind of wonderful? Anyhow, enough chatter. The current show (up through February and highly recommended) is on portraiture. And here are shots I took on site to capture the images that struck me most.

The above nude is by Edward Weston (of all people!).

Nicholas Nixon's Brown Sisters (I love love love this series and was so happy to see this one there, like an old friend)  

A group of Retratos Pintados (hand-tinted portraits from Mexico)

Vintage photo by August Sander (I'm a secret big believer in the concept of affinity. Because of that I feel absolutely certain this woman and I would be friends). 

Another August Sander (it seems to me it's rare to see vintage images of women who look happy holding babies, which makes it all the more awesome when you do). 

Hendrik Kerstens (this is the cover image for the excellent About Face exhibition catalog which they are selling there, though seemingly no place else, for the bargain price of ten bucks).

Hans-Peter Feldmann (these are the first and last images in a series that encircles a room, featuring a portrait of a different person for each year of life starting at 0, 1, 2, 3, etc, all the way up to 100).

Diane Arbus (I almost missed a whole room of amazing Arbus images because I didn't see the tiny doorway--that's how big this place is).

Gillian Wearing "Self Portrait as My Mother" (and...wait for it...)

Gillian Wearing "Self Portrait as My Father" (Ok, ok, I know, I know. Just like how it was deeply uncool in English Lit grad school to "read for the plot," you're not supposed to marvel at the costumed trickery of self-portrait photographers. I get it. No one wants to be caught in public exclaiming "Oh my god! Cindy Sherman looks just like a Florida retiree in that photo!" We're all so much more sophisticated than that, right? But I'm sorry. It has to be said: female artist Gillian Wearing's cross-dressing in the above image is astounding, right? I mean, come on!)

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