A collector you’ve never heard of has opened a pop-up gallery in a space you have never seen to showcase a remarkable collection of 20th century photography. It’s so large the SFMOMA would have to create another building the size of the new Fisher wing.

To find the gallery, you must wander down an unmarked entry between Pier 24 & 26. There you will come about an unmarked entrance with an intercom. Say the right words and the front desk will buzz you in. Behold the Pilara Collection. It’s jaw dropping from the moment you enter the hugh movie set-like warehouse.

Immediately you are greeted with a wall of late career Diane Arbus photographs from 1970-71 taken in a mental institute. Turn the corner to the right and bam, a giant Richard Avedon duo hits you in the face; A stunning portrait of an Interstate 80 drifter in Sparks, NV taken in 1983.

Wander past the early Eadweard Muybridge and contemporary Mark Klett panoramas of pre and post earthquake San Francisco. Tourists and locals alike will love the 100 year old images of famous streets, buildings, and ferries.

In the next room, at first I thought I was looking at a hall of Danish master paintings. Closer inspection reveals the play of old and new in the out sized works of Hiroshi Sugimoto. Right next to Catherine of Aragon you will find Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour, all created in 1999.

Iconic images to the left, iconic images to the right, Paul Strand, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Chuck Close, Gary Winogrand, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and many more local and international luminaries.

One could stare for hours in front of the double panel by Edward Burtynsky. Titled “Manufacturing #10a Cankun Factory, Xiamen, China 2005″, it’s a window into the soulless acres of rows of nameless workers cranking out widgets for export.

Boomers especially will love the nostalgic Avedon Beatles portfolio, known to most as the posters of John, Paul, George, and Ringo that came for free in their album and we’re all just kicking ourselves that we didn’t save them.

You will be moved to laugh and cry followed by an intense urge to go online and make another appointment. Every room, including the one with the amazing Vanessa Beercroft’s “Black Madonna with twins”, from the South Sudan Project, 2006, is worth several visits. See it all before it goes away or get on the mailing list for the next show.

All tours and exhibits are free.
Pier 24 The Embarcadero
San Francisco CA, 94105

Open By Appointment
Monday – Thursday
9am to 5pm

Phone: 415.512.7424
email: info@pier24.org