12 Must-See Works at PHOTOFAIRS | San Francisco
San Francisco is a known quantity in the world of photography. The city is home to major institutions that have long supported the medium—like Pier 24, SFMOMA, and de Young—and has played muse to leading photographers, from PHOTOFAIRS | San Francisco opened its inaugural edition on Thursday evening, with 34 galleries hailing from 14 countries. The fair launched with an ambitious vision to introduce a new generation of collectors to the medium, particularly through its contemporary practitioners.
“San Francisco is synonymous with the medium—there’s such a vibrancy inherent to the culture here for photography that we were able to work with,” PHOTOFAIRS artistic director Alexander Montague-Sparey told me during the fair’s opening. Eager to engage young generations of the tech, real estate, and finance industries, he’s developed the fair with an eye to make buying photography accessible—he estimates that the majority of work at the fair is priced between $5,000 and $50,000. “I really want to get people who have never been to an art fair before to come here and say ‘Oh, I can buy something for $3,000 that I love and it can go into my house,” he said. “It’s a very democratic fair in that respect.”
And while the fair does offer important work for serious vintage collectors, Montague-Sparey stressed its focus on “photography as a contemporary phenomenon,” having placed emphasis on work made in the 21st century. Contemporary works that speak to the Bay Area—including tech-focused light box works or visions of the Golden Gate—appear to be geared toward young collectors in particular. Below, we highlight 12 standout works from the fair.
Ryan McGinley, Lying Lamb, 2011
In 1968, Look Magazine sent
With work that’s often compared to
Matt Black, USA. Allensworth, California. Fence post. Allensworth has a population of 471 and 54% live below the poverty level., 2014
Part of the “Geography of Poverty” series he’s been creating for over two years, this work was taken while
Tavakoli became well-known for commercial landscape photography before pursuing his own work. “He became interested in how landscape is something that’s easily recognizable by anyone, as an indicator of memory or nostalgia, whether it’s personal or collective,” said a gallery representative. Upon first glance, this work (on offer for $3,000+) appears to figure a UFO hovering above an empty landscape, but in reality the orbs of light emanate from an unseen streetlamp, obscured in fog. “The works are very pared down; he does abstract, sort of minimal works of landscape with that fascination of it in mind.”
This photograph of a nondescript house veiled in dreamy mist (priced at $4,000–$7,500) is typical of the San Francisco-based
For this series
Immediately recognizable, this shot of the back of Batman’s head was part of a series
Casey Lesser is Artsy’s Creativity Editor.