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Alec Soth in Looking Back: Ten Years of Pier 24 Photography

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.

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