It can be difficult to have perspective on the recent past, especially these last few very eventful years, but we are cheered to see here in pictures some highlights of what we have witnessed. Among them are finding new ways to gather, reaching new audiences as well as longtime friends, and discovering new ways to connect. Already just a few years into this decade we are excited by what it foretells.
In the 2010s, Fraenkel Gallery exhibited a wider swath of multi-disciplinary work, as well as video, sculpture, paintings, film posters, and record albums. The gallery’s roster expanded to include younger artists—Alec Soth, Richard T. Walker, Wardell Milan, Elisheva Biernoff, and Richard Learoyd—as well as those working in a range of media, such as Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller and Mel Bochner. The satellite space FraenkelLAB ran from 2016 through 2017 with a diverse and experimental program. Following the expansion of SFMOMA in 2016, San Francisco became even more firmly established as an international destination for photography and contemporary art.
On the occasion of its 40th anniversary, Fraenkel Gallery has rededicated itself to presenting work in a wide variety of contemporary media–not at all limited to photo-based work–while maintaining photography as a through-line for its exhibitions and publications.
In the 2000s, Fraenkel Gallery began to feature even more artists whose work is not strictly—or not at all—photographic. The gallery’s ambitious exhibitions during this decade included Edward Hopper & Company, Nothing and Everything: Painting, Photography, Drawing & Sculpture 1896–2006, Christ in a lobby and Other Unknown or Almost Known Works by Diane Arbus (curated by Robert Gober), Not Exactly Photographs, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and Ralph Eugene Meatyard: The Family Album of Lucybelle Crater.
The gallery also added Katy Grannan, Peter Hujar, Christian Marclay, and Ralph Eugene Meatyard to our roster, increased publishing to at least one new title each year, and expanded our international footprint to encompass Art Basel and Paris Photo.
In the aftermath of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, in 1991 Fraenkel Gallery moved to a larger space at 49 Geary Street, one short block from our first location. The gallery expanded the range of artworks and media featured in our exhibitions and books, including solo shows of artists such as Nan Goldin, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Sophie Calle, Richard Avedon, Sol LeWitt, Gilbert & George, Jay DeFeo, and Bernd and Hilla Becher, as well as group shows encompassing sculpture, drawing, and mixed media.
Fraenkel Gallery opened in 1979 at 55 Grant Avenue in San Francisco, and immediately brought new attention to under-recognized and seldom-exhibited photographs by 19th-century artists Carleton Watkins, Timothy O’Sullivan, Anna Atkins, and Eadweard Muybridge and significant 20th-century artists, including Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Helen Levitt, Lee Friedlander, Diane Arbus, Robert Adams, Garry Winogrand, and Bruce Conner. In these early years, the gallery also began its publishing program of books and posters.