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Real to Real: Photographs from the Traina Collection

Real to Real: Photographs from the Traina Collection

Lee Friedlander
Lee Friedlander, New York City, 1966
(courtesy of Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco)

An exhibit of Trevor Traina’s magnificent photograph collection is scheduled to open at the de Young Museum on June 9, 2012.

“Real to Real: Photographs from the Traina Collection” features approximately 110 photographs by some of the pre-eminent artists working in photography this past century.

Classic black-and-white images by Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Diane Arbus and Garry Winogrand are mixed with eye-popping color pieces by artists ranging from Stephen Shore and William Eggleston to Cindy Sherman, Alec Soth, and Andreas Gursky.

Traina, who recently gave our friends at California Home + Design a tour of the collection as it was displayed in his home, has remarked that “Photography is a young medium. It’s an American medium, and many of the masterpieces are still available.” And indeed many of those masterpieces are featured in his collection.

martin parr
Martin Parr, Fashion Shoot for Amica, New York, 1999
(Martin Parr / Stephen Daiter Gallery)

With our world inundated by imagery, part of the excitement of an exhibit like this is not just in seeing the photographs, but in seeing the point of view of the collector, to see art through his eyes.

In creating this collection, Traina has worked with art historian Kevin Moore, who remarks that “Contemporary photographs are tricky concoctions. Particularly today, in an ultra-mediated culture of tepid Facebook friendships, corporate propaganda and political spin and industrially manufactured foods, the desire to cut through the layers separating us from the real is more urgent then ever. Photography has no claim on the real and never did, except insofar as we insist that we see our version of the real in it.”

Hence the title, “Real to Real.”

Founding Curator of Photography/Chief Administrative Curator at the Fine Arts Museums, Julian Cox, says that the exhibit examines different historical understandings of Realism – its changing definitions over time. It demonstrates photography’s singular, unbreakable connection to the real world, which remains part of its undeniable allure. According to Cox it’s “a one-of-a-kind collection cataloging some of the most important artists in the past 50 years of photography.”

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Elizabeth II, 1999 – Larry Clark, Untitled, 1971, from the series Tulsa

Cox says “It was Alfred Stieglitz who, a century ago, campaigned in support of photography’s expressive possibilities independent from other visual arts, because he believed the medium to be endowed with what he described as ‘a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.'”

He adds that “The Traina collection includes many images that sit firmly within the tradition of photography as a craft and a vocation, alongside those made by artists who consider photography as just one medium among others from which they can select to communicate an idea. This use of photography within conceptual art has been at the center of Traina’s most recent activity as a collector, and it brings the exhibition fully into the contemporary moment with exciting work by artists such as Jeff Wall, Roe Etheridge, Ann Collier, Alec Soth, and Christopher Williams.”

Presented in four thematic sections, Real to Real: Photographs from the Traina Collection delves into the richness and depth of the Traina collection, positing a playfully unexpected view of the history of photography from the 1950s to the present.

On Friday June 8, 2012, there will be a discussion at the de Young Museum’s Koret Auditorium with the “Real to Real” curators and even two artists represented in the collection: Daniel Lefcourt and Alec Soth.

Golden Gate Park
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
San Francisco, CA 94118

Hours: Tuesday–Sunday: 9:30 am–5:15 pm, Friday: 9:30 am–8:45 pm, Monday: Closed

$10 adults; $7 seniors; $6 youths 13–17 and students with college I.D.
Members and children 12 and under are free

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