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Best of the Best 2012: Art & Collectibles: Photography: Fraenkel Gallery

Sheila Gibson Stoodley

Since its founding in 1979, Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco has featured virtually everyone in the photographic pantheon, from Eugène Atget to Diane Arbus to Walker Evans. Four consecutive exhibits that the gallery mounted in 2011 testify to its enduring strength and power. A decades-spanning group of images by Sol LeWitt shed light on an underappreciated aspect of his career. Irving Penn: Radical Beauty 1946–2007 revealed the radiance Penn found in anything from gorgeous models to burly bikers. Richard Learoyd filled the walls with large detailed images whose power far exceeds the printed page. Christian Marclay followed with an exhibit that united two obsolete technologies: the cassette tape and the cyanotype, a chemically treated paper that turns blue when exposed to light. All four men relied on the same tool to turn their ideas into works of art, says Frish Brandt, director of the gallery, but "each used the medium of photography in unique ways."

 

Fraenkel Gallery, 415.981.2661, www.fraenkelgallery.com

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