Pier 24 Gallery - Hauntingly Beautiful

The Pier 24 exhibit About Face is hauntingly beautiful and totally overwhelming. After entering into the main room, the largest of the 20 rooms, I turned clock-wise, then counter clock-wise and back, only to begin to cry.

It was not the first time I cried publicly in a gallery or a museum, it probably will not be the last. Less than an hour later, when confronted by the photograph of the ‘fab four,’ tears flowed once more and I found myself in need of sitting down.

Hendrick Kerstens, Hairnet, 2000
Pier 24 About Face catalogue cover with additional post production work by Egmont

A good number of the photographs on display I have seen in books and even a few previously in a museum, now I found myself standing in front of them, in a room shared maybe by one or two other people.

No more than 20 people are permitted in at a time and we are given two hours for our visit, providing one with a very unique experience. My last 30-40 minutes were shared with a very small staff, one other guest and my son.

The exhibit was to end last February but was extended till the end of April. The gallery will be closed for 8-10 weeks before opening up again in July, with an exhibit on the environment. So if you live or are visiting San Francisco, I would like to urge you to make plans and visit Pier 24 Gallery. You will not regret your visit but you will if you pass it up.

The exhibit is made possible by The Pilara Foundation, who’s collection consists of more than 2000 photographs, most from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The collection mostly focuses on American photographers, Europe, Asia and Africa are also represented.

One of the rooms is totally dedicated to the German photographer August Sanders, who’s work was denounced by Hitler during the Nazi years, because he photographed gypsies, tradesmen, business men and mentally insane. To be able to see more than 100 original prints of Sanders work from 1920’s to the thirties is an experience one should not miss. 

One of the earliest examples on display is Lewis Hine’s Breaker Boys, from 1911. There is also entire room dedicated to Diane Arbus, featuring some very iconic and memorable photographs, including Avedon’s larger than life portraits, his last major work before his death in October 2004.

During my first visit I was overcome by emotions, for one cannot help but feel the impact of history surrounding one, as the faces look back at you and pierce through your very existence with their eyes.

Pier 24 Entrance and Main room

Dorothea Lange
Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936

Richard Avedon
Oscar Levant, pianist, Beverly Hills, California, April 12, 1972

Walker Evans
Alabama Tenant Farmer Wife, Allie Mae Burroughs, 1936

Edward Steichen
Portrait of Gloria Swanson, 1924

Mugshots, Scranton, Pennsylvania, 1900s-1940

Paul Scheik, 2011
(Top L-R) Bridges, Dunnel     (Bottom L-R) Franklin, Smith

Hiroshi Sugimoto
Henry VIII, 1999

Diane Arbus
Child with a toy hand grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C., 1962

Richard Avedon, 
(L to R) Roger Tims, Jim Duncan, Leonard Markley, Don Belak
Coal miners, Reliance Wyoming, 1979, four panels

Richard Avedon, 
(L to R) Roger Tims, Jim Duncan
Coal miners, Reliance Wyoming, 1979, panels one and two

Richard Avedon, 
Leonard Markley, Coal miner, Reliance Wyoming, 1979, panel two and three

The Rolling Stones - The Family catalogue 

Richard Avedon
Ronald Reagan, former Governor of California, The Family Series, 1976

Richard Avedon
George Bush, CIA Director, The Family Series, 1976

Richard Avedon
Cesar Chavez, Organizer, United Farm Workers, The Family Series, 1976

          Pier 24 website
          Visiting and scheduling an appointment at Pier 24

          All photographs taken by me with the iPhone 4S, as photography
          is permitted.

          The ‘About Face’ catalogue features a copy of every photo in the
          exhibit and only costs $10.00 Dollar.

All photographs taken with an iPhone 4S by
©2013 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved

1 comment:

Carlos said...

Very nice article E.

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