1000 Words

City Guides

#5 San Francisco

Pier 24
The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105
+1 415 512 7424

Located on San Francisco’s Embarcadero, and home to the Pilara Foundation permanent collection, Pier 24 offers an expansive and contemplative environment for viewing photographic works. The institution actively engages with the community through its exhibitions, publications, and public programmes, and welcomes members of the public, academic institutions, and museum groups for two-hour, self-guided tours by appointment from Monday to Friday. Perhaps its most generous offering, as high museum entrance fees threaten to drive down attendance in the Bay Area, Pier 24 is free and open to the public.

SF Camerawork
1011 Market Street, 2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
+1 415 487 1011

SF Camerawork’s mission is to encourage and support emerging artists to explore new directions and ideas within the photographic arts. Established in 1974 as a cooperative venture to promote photography as a new art form, the founding artists envisioned the institution as a space where photographers could showcase work not being shown at commercial galleries or museums at the time. Since its opening, SF Camerawork has invited experimental approaches to photography, and sought to foster a range of alternative aesthetics and techniques, including early support for the incorporation of conceptual, performance and language-based practice within photography. Over its forty-four year history, SF Camerawork has hosted exhibitions featuring a host of influential artists, including Robert Heinecken, Sally Mann, Allan Sekula, Robert Mapplethorpe, Donna Lee Phillips, Lew Thomas and Carrie Mae Weems.

Pritzker Center for Photography
151 Third Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
+1 415 357 4000

SFMOMA was one of the first American institutions to embrace photography, and now holds over 17,800 photographic works within its colossal collection, spanning the entirety of the medium’s history beginning in 1839. Nearly tripling the museum’s space to 15,000 ft2 the new Pritzker Center is the largest venue permanently dedicated to photography in any art museum in the US. The space is also home to the newly designed Photography Interpretive Gallery, featuring dynamic interfaces driven by camera-inspired controls and interactive installations which contextualise the museum’s photographic collection.

Fraenkel Gallery
49 Geary Street, 4th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94108
+1 415 981 2661

Since 1979, Fraenkel Gallery has presented more than 300 exhibitions exploring photography and its relation to other arts. The gallery’s first exhibitions investigated the work of Carleton Watkins, Lee Friedlander, and NASA’s lunar photographs. Over its nearly forty-year history, the gallery has presented exhibitions by artists as diverse as Bernd & Hilla Becher, Walker Evans, Eugene Atget, Edward Weston, Diane Arbus, Sol LeWitt, and Hiroshi Sugimoto. In exhibitions such as Not Exactly Photographs (2003) and Nothing and Everything (2006–07), Fraenkel Gallery has brought together work across media, interweaving photography, painting, drawing, and sculpture.

Jenkins Johnson Gallery
464 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94108
+1 415 677 0770

Founded in 1996, Jenkins Johnson Gallery represents international artists working across disciplines, with a particular emphasis in photography and photo-based work. In late 2017, Jenkins Johnson Gallery opened a second project-oriented space in Brooklyn. The gallery exhibits the work of established 20th century masters including Gordon Parks and projects with the estate of Roy DeCarava. The programme features critically recognised, mid-career artists including Lynn Aldrich, Carlos Javier Ortiz and Lalla Essaydi, as well as emerging practitioners such as Julia Fullerton-Batten and Timotheus Tomicek. Taking the name of its formidable founder and arts advocate Karen Jenkins Johnson, the gallery is also celebrated for its diverse roster and long-term commitment to supporting artists of colour.

Roula Seikaly

Image: Pier 24 Photography, San Francisco. Photo: Tom O’Connor.