Pier 24 is a 28,000 square foot exhibition space in San Francisco dedicated to Photography.
‘Born out of the desire to reinvent the ways in which photography and photographic ideas are presented, Pier 24 is a distinctive environment where art has the freedom to be seen and thought about differently.’
It means that you have to book in advance (and it’s often full), that they only allow 20 people inside at the time, that you have 2 hours to wander around the exhibition and make your own self-guided tour. It also means that there are no signs explaining the images or even stating their titles or authors. It’s only about the photographs.
Of course you can ask at the entrance for a small catalog of the show with all the names and context you’ll need, but I recommend that you first just wander around freely and open-minded. Just walk through the different rooms in no particular order and let yourself be overwhelmed by what you see. If you arrive on time, you might even be alone in most of the rooms and have the photographs to yourself. It’s a wonderful and unique feeling to stand on your own in a room full of photographic masterpieces. Of course you will recognize some of them and identify their authors but try first to look at the pictures without thinking of their syntax just for the thrill of the experience.
Then get the book and give yourself another chronological tour. The current exhibition is ‘From the Collection of Randi and Bob Fisher’. (For those who don’t know - and I didn’t, maybe because I’m not an American - Bob Fisher is the son of Doris and Donald Fisher, co-founders of the Gap.)
Part of the exhibition is dedicated to contemporary German photographers giving us a good representation of the Dusseldorf School of Photography with artists Bernd and Hilla Becher, Thomas Struth and Andreas Gursky.
The main show however takes you on an incredible journey through American Photography. From Man Ray to Diane Arbus, from Alfred Stieglitz to Robert Frank, from Edward Weston to William Eggleston, not forgetting Walker Evans, Harry Callahan, Lee Friedlander or Garry Winogrand. In less than 2 hours you can enjoy more than 100 years of American Photography by some of the best American photographers.
Here are a few random pictures of the exhibition and of the photographs you’ll see there. No title, no photographer’s name, no particular order. You might know these photographs but I don’t want to spoil your experience before you go.
Learn more on Pier 24: www.pier24.org