Pilara Foundation Changing Philanthropic Focus

January 28, 2023

Chris McCaw, Sunburned GSP#455 (San Francisco), 2010. Ⓒ Chris McCaw, courtesy the artist


San Francisco—The Foundation that runs the highly acclaimed photography museum Pier 24 Photography on the San Francisco Embarcadero announced today it is changing its philanthropic focus and will close the museum when its lease expires with the Port of San Francisco in July 2025.

The Pilara Foundation will close Pier 24 Photography and transition to a granting foundation focused on supporting organizations devoted to healthcare research, education, and the arts.

Pier 24 Photography plans to organize one more exhibition following Looking Forward: Ten Years of Pier 24 Photography, opened in August 2022 following a significant delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Andrew Pilara, President of the Pilara Foundation, explained, “It has been a privilege to work with and serve this community for the past twelve years. One of my greatest joys has been witnessing school groups of all ages excitedly engaging with the photographs on our walls and teachers utilizing our space as an educational resource. It would be an understatement to say this was an extremely difficult decision.”

“After struggling for five years to secure a new lease with the San Francisco Port Commission and its ultimate decision to triple our rent definitely informed our decision to close. Rather than operating with a significantly higher annual budget, we believe that money could be better utilized by local organizations.”

“The pandemic further revealed the challenges that museums operating in San Francisco face and provided us time to reflect on how we can best serve the city as a whole. We have determined our greatest future contribution to the Bay Area community would be in this new capacity,” Pilara said.

Since opening in 2010, Pier 24 Photography has produced eleven exhibitions; published over twenty books; partnered with California College of the Arts to establish the Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program—which brings artists to the Bay Area to work with students and provide free public lectures; worked with Magnum Photos on “Postcards from America”—an expansive five year project documenting the contemporary American social landscape; and collaborated with innumerable contemporary photographers on commissions and exhibition-related projects.

Jeff Rosenheim, curator in charge of the department of photographs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, observed in 2019, “There is really nothing else like Pier 24 [Photography] in the United States. The exhibitions, the program, the belief in the medium and the opportunities it has provided to communicate the larger story of the arts in America is undeniable. What they have done is no less than a miracle since it is entirely funded by an individual with a great heart.”


Pier 24 Photography featured on 9 lives magazine

September 16, 2022

Our thanks to curator Émilie Flory for sharing about her experience visiting Pier 24 Photography on 9 lives magazine

To check out her article please click HERE.


Bay Area Reporter includes Looking Forward in their fall exhibition roundup

September 5, 2022

John Chiara, selected works from Beyond Here Lies Nothing in the exhibition Looking Forward: Ten Years of Pier 24 Photography (installation view). Photograph by Josef Jacques, courtesy Pier 24 Photography


Our thanks to Sura Wood for including Looking Forward in her fall roundup of Bay Area exhibitions!

To see her full article—”Get an eyeful: Fall Arts museums & galleries, part 1″—click HERE.


Looking Forward reviewed by SF Examiner

August 23, 2022

Daniel Postaer, San Francisco, University Club, 2018. © Daniel Postaer, courtesy the artist


Max Blue  reviewed Looking Forward: Ten Years of Pier 24 Photography for the SF Examiner. He discusses a number of the photographers included in the exhibition, including Daniel Postaer who, he says, “captures San Francisco’s urban sublime, particularly in “San Francisco, University Club,” 2018, which shows a familiar skyline behind an apartment building, a silhouette moving in the single lighted window. Here, photography both looks in and out at once, conveying the claustrophobia and expansiveness of city life.”

To read his full article—Pier 24 presents the best of contemporary photography—click HERE.


Pier 24 Photography listed as top SF destination in San Francisco Chronicle

August 15, 2022

John Chiara, Bay Panel, 2020 (installation view from Looking Forward: Ten Years of Pier 24 Photography, August 8, 2022–May 31, 2023).


We are delighted Peter Hartlaub included a visit to Pier 24 Photography in his article “32 San Francisco things everyone should do in 2022”  in the San Francisco Chronicle.

To see his complete list, click HERE.


Looking Forward reviewed by KQED

August 10, 2022

Chanell Stone, In search of a certain Eden, 2019. © Chanell Stone, courtesy the artist


Sarah Hotchkiss reviewed Looking Forward: Ten Years of Pier 24 Photography for KQED Arts & Culture. In her piece, Hotchkiss writes, “While there are 16 artists in Looking Forward, each is displayed in their own roomy gallery. And in those galleries, we’re usually seeing a single body of work, a privileged view that keeps the threads of an artist’s approach intact. It’s a style of presentation that is as much like a studio visit as it is a museum show.”

To read her full article—Pier 24’s ‘Looking Forward’ is a Delayed Anniversary Show Worth the Wait—click HERE.


Looking Back reviewed in The Potrero View

October 24, 2021


This month’s issue of The Potrero View featured a review of Looking Back by arts critic, Max Blue. In his piece, Blue asserts “Because photography shows us how things are – or were, at one moment in time – Looking Back is as much a history of humanity as it is a history of an artistic medium.”

To read his full article—”The Big Picture”—click HERE.


New Publication—Photographers Looking at Photographs Available

December 10, 2019

We are please to announce our newest publication—Photographers Looking at Photographs: 75 Pictures from the Pilara Foundation—is now available.

180 pages | 113 images | 13 x 11.25 in. | Hardcover | 978-1-59711-006-8 |

Edited and introduced by Allie Haeusslein
Contributing writers include Thomas Demand, Jim Goldberg, Paul Graham, Jackie Nickerson, Eva O’Leary, Catherine Opie, Stephen Shore, Alec Soth, and Jeff Wall, among others.

In Photographers Looking at Photographs, 75 artists from the Pilara Foundation collection write about works they have selected from the collection. They were asked to draw inspiration from John Szarkowski’s seminal book Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of the Museum of Modern Art (1973), a text that has influenced and educated generations of photographers.

To preview the publication, click here.

To purchase the publication, click here.


Upcoming Lecture with Jonathan Calm

October 1, 2019

Jonathan Calm, Green Book (Jackson II), 2016

Pier 24 Photography announces an upcoming lecture by artist Jonathan Calm, the 2019 recipient of the Larry Sultan Photography Award. This lecture is part of the Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program. The lecture will be held on Wednesday, October 9th – 7PM at the Timken Lecture Hall, California College of the Arts, San Francisco.

Jonathan Calm is a visual artist who works in photography, video, installation, and performance. A central theme of his work is the relationship between photography and urban architecture, and the powerful role of images in the way architectural constructs shape the lives of individuals and communities.

To read more about Calm and this program, click here.


Gallery Guide for Looking Back Available!

August 1, 2019

We are please to announce that the gallery guide for our current exhibition Looking Back is now available!

152 pages | 132 images | 90 artwork reproductions | 8.5 x 11 in. | Softcover |978-1-59711-005-1

This guide offers readers a detailed look at Pier 24 Photography’s eleventh exhibition, Looking Back: Ten Years of Pier 24 Photography. The publication documents Pier 24 Photography’s unique installations, including titles and dates for the works on view, quotes by many of the exhibited artists, and a brief introduction to the exhibition.

The first of two consecutive exhibitions that Pier 24 Photography will present on the occasion of its tenth anniversary, Looking Back features photographers and subjects the Pilara Foundation collected in depth before this space opened. Many of these core photographers—including Robert Adams, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Dorothea Lange, and Hiroshi Sugimoto—have been instrumental to the medium’s development. Reflecting the Foundation’s significant focus on the genre, the exhibition’s opening galleries highlight a wide range of portraiture, ranging from mugshots and works by unknown photographers to iconic images by celebrated figures in the history of photography. The main gallery—entitled “About Face”—spans more than 120 years of the medium, presenting the portrait through the lenses of nearly fifty different artists. With its other thematic galleries, Looking Back also reconsiders subjects explored in some of the ten exhibitions on view since Pier 24 opened. These installations incorporate recent additions to the collection, reframing the themes explored in earlier presentations and demonstrating their continued relevance.

Looking Back is not meant to reflect the breadth of the collection as a whole but rather to focus on some of the key building blocks of the Foundation’s collection. In 2020, Looking Forward—the second of the anniversary exhibitions—will examine works primarily collected since Pier 24 Photography’s founding. Together, these shows will consider the Pilara Foundation Collection’s origins, recent history, and future trajectory.

You can purchase the gallery guide here.

You can view the gallery guide online here.


American Photographer Jonathan Calm receives the 2019 Larry Sultan Photography Award

October 10, 2019

Presented in partnership with the McEvoy Foundation for the Arts and Headlands Center for the Arts, Jonathan Calm has been selected to receive the prestigious Larry Sultan Photography Award. The award consists of a $10,000 cash award and an artist residency at Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, CA. Calm will also engage meaningfully in the Bay Area’s photography community, giving a free, public lecture on October 9, 2019.

Jonathan Calm (b. 1971, United States) is a visual artist who works in photography, video, installation, and performance. A central theme of his work is the relationship between photography and urban architecture, and the powerful role of images in the way architectural constructs shape the lives of individuals and communities.


Belgian Photographer Bieke Depoorter receives the 2018 Larry Sultan Photography Award

October 8, 2018

In a collaborative partnership with four major Bay Area arts organizations, Bieke Depoorter has been selected to receive the prestigious 2018 Larry Sultan Photography Award. The award, granted through a partnership of California College of the Arts, Headlands Center for the Arts, Pier 24 Photography, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, consists of a $10,000 cash award and an artist residency at Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, CA. As the 2018 awardee, Depoorter will engage with the Bay Area photography community by working with students at the California College of the Arts this fall and giving a free, public lecture on November 8, 2018.

Photographer Bieke Depoorter (b. 1986, Belgium) travels the world to find her subjects, creating extraordinarily intimate photographs that straddle portraiture, documentary, and fiction. The relationships she creates with those she photographs are the key to her work. As Depoorter describes it, “The relationships I establish with my subjects are the foundation of my artistic practice…. The resulting stories are always partially mine, partially theirs.”

To read the complete press release, click HERE.


The Grain of the Present featured in San Francisco Chronicle

September 11, 2017


This past Saturday’s edition of the San Francisco Chronicle featured a review of The Grain of the Present by arts critic, Charles Desmarais. In his piece, Desmarais discusses the significance of the exhibition’s first generation photographers before going on to discuss the “eye-opening new takes by a second generation.”

To read his full article—”Ways of viewing the social landscape at Pier 24 Photography”—click HERE.


Paul Graham: The Whiteness of the Whale at the High Museum of Art

June 23, 2017

Paul Graham
Pittsburgh (detail) from a shimmer of possibility, 2004
© Paul Graham; courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York


Paul Graham: The Whiteness of the Whale opens at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta on June 24, 2017. This exhibition brings together three of Graham’s most groundbreaking bodies of work, made across the United States between 1998 and 2011: American Night (1998–2002), a shimmer of possibility (2004–2006), and The Present (2009–2001). Linked by a common subject matter, the work gathered here examines the state of race and social class in America while using the very nature of sight and the medium of photography as metaphors for inequality, invisibility, and the ways photographs inflect our perceptions of the world.

Paul Graham: The Whiteness of the Whale is organized by Pier 24 Photography and features nearly forty works, ranging from individual large-scale photographs to sequences of over a dozen images. The exhibition is on view June 24–October 22, 2017.

To learn more, click HERE.


The Grain of the Present in The Bay Area Reporter

April 27, 2017


Sura Wood reviews our current exhibition for The Bay Area Reporter. Wood shows particular interest in the contemporary photographers included, writing “…the most exciting feature of this show is its discoveries, and those belong to a field of six younger artists, half of them women, who are certainly well-acquainted with the work of the old guard.” To read her full article—”Present tense”—click HERE.


Collected in The Art Newspaper

November 16, 2016


This month’s issue of The Art Newspaper features a special report on Photography. In one of the included articles writer Jori Finkel discusses our current exhibition Collected and the Bay Area’s community of photography collectors.

Finkel writes, “Now more than ever, the city seems to be the epicentre of serious—and sometimes seriously eccentric—photography collecting in the US.” To read her full article—”Bay Area collectors reach critical mass”—click HERE.


Pier 24 at the San Francisco Art Book Fair

July 13, 2016


Minnesota Street Projects
1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
Saturday, July 23rd: 11am – 6pm |  Sunday, July 24th: 11am – 5pm
Preview on Friday, July 22nd: 6pm – 10pm

Pier 24 Photographs is excited to participate in the inaugural San Francisco Art Book Fair, an annual multi-day festival of artists’ publications. The fair includes artists’ books, art catalogs, monographs, periodicals, zines, printed ephemera, and artists’ multiples presented by independent publishers, antiquarian dealers, artists, collectors, and enthusiasts, as well as a diverse range of programs and live performances.


Collected reviewed by Charles Desmarais for The San Francisco Chronicle

June 4, 2016

Our current exhibition, Collected, is featured on the front page of Saturday’s Datebook in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The newspaper’s art critic, Charles Desmarais, writes, “Collected dives into aspects of 10 private collections in the Bay Area. It is an intimate look behind the curtains that would normally screen such accumulations from our view.”

To read “Snapshot of the collector,” click HERE.


Collected in Art in America

May 17, 2016


Lindsay Pollock—editior-in-chief at Art in America—discussed our current exhibition, Collected, in a piece about the local art scene in San Francisco.

Of Collected, Pollock writes, “the works are well chosen and offer insight into the collectors’ psychology.”

To read “Local Largesse: Collected in San Francisco,” click HERE.


Pier 24 Photography on Artsy

May 12, 2016


Monica Westin included Pier 24 Photography in her recent article “An Insider’s Guide to Navigating the San Francisco Art Scene” published through Artsy.

She writes: Pier 24 Photography “houses the jaw-dropping Pilara Foundation’s collection in addition to exhibiting ambitious but accessible shows of historical and contemporary photography.”

You can check out Westin’s comprehensive survey of arts spaces around San Francisco HERE.