It’s taken me a few days to write this, but I have finally put my thoughts together and the current photography exhibits at the SFMoMA are simply……Brilliant.
I started off my trip heading directly for Ansel Adams, which was nicely paired with the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe, a nice alignment since the two were pals. Although admittedly, I did skim over the paintings and went straight for those glorious prints. Of course the popular ones were there: Moonrise over Hernandez and Winter Sunrise. BUT as the headphone laden tourists were blankly staring at those prints, I was sneaking over to my favorite…Monolith, The Face of Half Dome. There is nothing like seeing and absorbing an original work. You can’t help but feel the intensity of this photograph. He writes, “I saw the photograph as a brooding form, with deep shadows and a distant sharp white peak against a dark sky.” I love the fact that I actually own the same type of filter he used…a Red Wratten No. 29.
Reject stiff-and-staid poses!
What can I say, Richard Avedon….bad ass portraits. I’m still reeling by the sample of work shown. What sticks out in my mind are the portraits he took everyday people who we take for granted. Boyd Fortin, 13 Year Old Rattlesnake Skinner, Debbie McClendon, Carney, or Clarence Lippard, Drifter. Some of these portraits still haunt me, like William Casby, Born a Slave. Words can’t accurately describe the emotion each of these subjects portray and you really have to see them for yourself. AND since most of them are life-sized or larger, you will be very impressed. Maybe there really is something to this basic, neutral, infinite white background that isolates the subject, hmmmm. Oh yeah, also check out his Vogue fashion displays and political portraits in Rolling Stones magazine.
Now Robert Franks, The Americans is a solid exhibition of work and you will not be disappointed. Pair that with another exhibit, Not only will you see over 100 photographs documenting his trek through America, coast to coast. You’ll see his notes, drafts and final application for his Guggenheim Fellowship, which I would say that he owes much thanks to the help of Edward Weston, whom heavily commented on his draft applications. Make sure to checkout; Political Rally, Trolly and Elevator.
No doubt that after seeing these exhibits it made me grab my camera and start clicking away. Of course not of the work itself (The no-no policy on photographing the amazing work was well-respected for the most part. Aside from the few misguided teens and their camera phones, but who cares, I’m glad to see the little tikes their enjoying the show), BUT while among the tiered floors of the Tuscan style architecture, there was some great light peeking through the ocular window. For the first time I actually took in the layout of the museum and realized how misleading the size of this place is. The large atrium entrance disguises the volume of work that is around you and you can’t help but explore the next floor and corridor. You’ll be surprised by what you find.