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Recommended Reviews

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  • 5.0 star rating

    One of my favorite places to view photography, for the choices that have been made in terms of artists, their work, presentation, and lighting.  

    The rooms are beautiful and open.  One is free to step back in contemplation, or move closer to breathe with the art.

    Irving Penn is on exhibit now; there's a range to his vision that I hadn't expected.

  • 1.0 star rating

    Allow me to preface: I do not like to give negative reviews.

    On my way home from work, I like to occasionally stop in the amazing galleries on Geary, and the people stationed at their desks are always very kind, often offering up fascinating tidbits about SF, art, what have you.  I feel extremely fortunate to live in such a lovely city immersed in such beauty.

    Today I stoped into Fraenkel Gallery.  My presence wasn't acknowledge by the woman working there, which was fine.  Approximately three minutes from the time I entered, a very distinguished, well-dressed, and quite elderly gentleman leaning on a cane approached me, pointed to one of the paintings, and said, "There's the reason I was exiled from my country."  He then began telling me about how he was an artist in Moscow in the forties; he used charmingly articulate speech in a soft, quiet, Russian accent; he eyes were so kind, and his story was very interesting.  

    About two minutes after we began conversing, the woman who worked there emphatically cleared her throat.  One minute later, she went into another room and slammed the door obnoxiously upon her return.  We were standing out of the way, speaking very quietly, and no one else was in the gallery.  My new acquaintance, Alex, continued his story, adding that his wife had passed away last year.  I was not in the least bit bothered by Alex; it felt really good to connect with someone who really seemed to just want to talk to someone.  He was in no way senile...just in need of a friend.

    Five minutes into our conversation, the woman at the desk, whose demeanor I can describe as downright nasty with no exaggeration, loudly said, "This is a store; if you want to continue your lecture, do it outside."  These were the only words she said to us the entire time.  Alex and I went outside and spoke for another fifteen minutes or so, his eyes lighting up as he described Florence to me.  He told me that it was wonderful talking with me and that I made his day and warmly shook my hand.  I could tell he was sincere, and my eyes watered up as I walked away, wondering where he would go to next.  I do hope I run into him again.

    I sincerely hope that people will treat the woman at the gallery with more kindness when the day comes that she is old and lonely.

  • 4.0 star rating

    Another of our favorite art haunts, the Fraenkel always has something cooking.
    To be brief.
    Irving Penn, Diane Arbus, Freidlander, Winogrand,Goldin and Meatyard (dude slays me with the Lucibelle Crater stuff).
    Ever presenting an intersting peek into the efforts of some of the greats in photography.
    Learoyd's "Presences" was particularly compelling. The method of direct positive capture imbued the images with striking intensity. More than a year ago and still on my mind. Just didnt want to plunk the cash at the time.
    Like the Bransten space, we always come away with something to talk about.
    Prices typically follow market without unusual excursions IMHO.

  • 4.0 star rating

    Very classy. With wooden floors, gray walls, and low lighting, it's set up more like a small private museum than the average photography gallery.

    The exhibition up when I visited juxtaposed paintings and pastels by Charles Burchfield and photographs by Ralph Eugene Meatyard from the 60s and 70s. I really enjoyed the pairing--they were two idiosyncratic takes on the pastoral genre, and Burchfield's washy brushstrokes and folk-art compositions were tempered by the eerie effects of splintering and shattering in Meatyard's prints.

    In the back there is a showroom, which on my visit had a selection of works by Lee Friedlander, Nan Goldin, Hiroshi Sugimoto. Fraenkel shares a floor of an office building with several other photography galleries but clearly stands far above the crowd.

  • 5.0 star rating

    I love Fraenkel! Their programming is well-researched, stimulating, and unique. The gallery space is beautiful and the staff is extremely passionate about their work and photography in general. This is a great place for curious photography students and enthusiasts to see a range of unseen to iconic images. There needs to be more spaces like 49 Geary!

  • 5.0 star rating

    This Gallery in the 49 Geary Street building is really well curated.  I was just there in October and the way they paired the art in each room was fantastic.  This is a must when visiting San Francisco.

  • 1.0 star rating

    I do not understand the rave reviews for this gallery at all. Perhaps we chose a terrible time to visit?
    My husband and I are passionate photography collectors and we came in on a Friday morning to see the Winogrand exhibit and take a look at some specific pieces in which we were interested.
    The front desk staff were dismissive, chilly, and straight-up rude, and when my husband tried to ask another staffer about a Sugimoto in the next room, the man literally shut a door in his face! We tried to get into a conversation with absolutely anyone at this gallery and were met with total dismissal (and no, we didn't come in our gym clothes, and we aren't tourists, not that that would have justified this treatment).
    I really believe that the art world needs young collectors and new collectors, and if Fraenkel treated us this way, I can't imagine how they treat visitors who want to learn more about the world of photography. It's not cool.
    On top of it all, the Winogrand show was good but nothing else on display was very interesting, and certainly no-one was going to show us anything else on hand!
    We went downstairs to the Stephen Wirtz Gallery where we spent an hour in animated conversation with the owner about both the current exhibit and other artists. We later returned and bought an amazing Paul Schiek & a Jim Goldberg. No reason to ever go back upstairs to Fraenkel!

  • 5.0 star rating

    Exquisite space.  Perfect for exhibits.  Just saw Edward Hopper & Company on a cold, rainy day, and it was an oasis from the outside world.  The staff was very helpful and gracious.

    I definitely want to return and explore more of this building of art.

  • 1.0 star rating

    Snobs, elitist, attitudes suck, management practices dodgy, predators.

  • 4.0 star rating

    Very good gallery but the workers are not so friendly.

    Main reason for 4 stars and not 5 is that the works they display is many times good but at other times, too weird and just not to my liking. I like more traditional, straight forward photography, and Fraenkel seems to like more edgy works. Sometimes i really feel like i just can't appreciate the photos i am seeing.

    But overall, its a terrific space and very professional looking.

    sidenote - There is this one big office in there (when u make a right out of the main room) with great pieces of art and windows all around. Its huge and beautiful...i can't imagine a better looking office than that anywhere in the world....that person is so lucky! maybe thats fraenkel??

  • 5.0 star rating

    Fraenkel Gallery
    49 Geary Street
    San Francisco, CA

    Richard Learoyd, Exhibitor, Photographer

    The big show pieces of eyes, I stare at you because I can, you in the life-like landscape of yourself and I in the same room, soft focus, shallow depth of field, disturbed hair, wrinkled dress shocked dominion of your pettiness, a clover of beauty, delicate hands, gray, violet colors, and gold.

    I would love to have this conversation with you and your youth stuck in a chamber, suspended for a moment drafting plans in your store and you see no one there but yourself feelings, sensations, barbeque at the memories of those earlier years that made you and followed you here.

    You too in red, equally persuasive, charming crystalline despite the battered chair what you promise is to satisfy those lucky enough to get to see you on the outside and to hear your voice that must seem so majestic coming from that mouth into my love affair. I remember you from my childhood hesitant in your condominium apartment on Date, how we tumbled into your hairy armpits and those extra soft breasts. They surprised me. And you never gave yourself away, imposing on me the strictures of your intelligence commanded from your mother, who in New York had imparted wisdom, both genetic and learned. You knew the mud wrestle I was after in the hot tropical room serving as your study for the Master's Degree in anthropology. You were the finest woman I have ever entangled and how you contemplated your next move.

    This is you, how naked and I am to watch, what answers you would give if I asked. Those are the sleepy eyes of time's incubus and my memory of you.

    And you as conservative are beautiful as Audrey Hepburn deep in thought. Still, the matron caught and true to someone, who must know and care for you as deep as you imply despite that you've taken dye to lighten your God-brown hair.

    With your tattoo, I know you are here among us; women didn't used to paint themselves in such clichés.

  • 5.0 star rating

    We came here to see the photo exhibit - one of the best photography exhibits I've seen. Everything was picked our perfectly - the curator knows his/her sh%t (pardon my french). Although the photographs were from different photographers and different time periods everything came together perfectly. The space is intimate enough where you're not elbowing people.

    I'll be back here soon.

    Oh...and did I mention it was free? precisely.

  • 5.0 star rating

    In my past life as a photgrapher, this place provided much inspiration as some of my favorite artists have their work prominently displayed here. From Eugene Atget to Joel Peter Witkin, it's nothing short of an All Star representation of the disciplines best photographers.

  • 5.0 star rating

    Excellent gallery show rooms, great selection of exhibitions.  Currently hosting works by Richard Avedon which is simply AMAZING :)

  • 5.0 star rating

    I think one of the premier photography galleries in the world.
    Every exhibition and every publication is crafted so well and done with such care and passion that the product ultimately is the best there is!  The people are also genuine, friendly, knowledgeable and very professional.

    Fraenkel Gallery is by far one of my favorite places to see incredible art!

  • 5.0 star rating

    I love the Waterworks building. With floor after floor of great little art galleries, it's like going to the MoMa without the entrance fee and noisy tourists. My favorite gallery is on the fourth floor, the Fraenkel. I have seen the most amazing photographs on their walls - from Atget to Sugimoto, Arbus to Goldin. You can linger as long as you want without anyone elbowing you out of the way. They also produce really beautiful catalogues, which are works of art in themselves. (My Richard Avedon "Made in France" catalogue is now worth hundreds of dollars more than what we paid for it. ) And, if you're lucky, you can sometimes buy a book or poster autographed by the exhibiting artist!

  • 4.0 star rating

    The Fraenkel Gallery is one of the nicest of all the galleries in 49 Geary. It feels like a museum, and has wonderful light. As for the art, well it is always photography. I am a little bias when it comes to photography, because I personally enjoy other art forms much more. So when I say that is is a good gallery, it probably means that it is a great photography gallery. So no matter what your preferences are, if you enjoy art you will be able to appreciate this gallery.

  • 5.0 star rating

    There are consistently good exhibits here and with the added bonus that the building houses 3 floors of galleries to wander through.  If you are a photography nut like me you will want to check in here often, there is always something good here! Currently, there is a Richard Avedon exhibit there that is definitely worth checking out.

  • 5.0 star rating

    This is one of the great galleries in North America.....all the best established phographers of each century are her....each show is brilliantly curated and gives the view a world class art experience.

  • 5.0 star rating

    The current exhibit of Richard Misrach is amazing.  You can almost walk in the large prints.

  • 3.0 star rating

    Some beautiful exhibits and a great list of photographers, but this place takes itself a little bit too seriously.... ropes raised and lowered, doors opened and closed, you'd think you were were in MOMA. On the other hand, great expertise, lots of experience, have had good luck with purchases there. If only it were a little less self-important.

  • 5.0 star rating
    First to Review

    This gallery represents some of the biggest names in photography from the last century:  Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Eugene Atget, Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, Gary Winogrand, Nan Goldin...The list goes on.  They install beautiful, museum-quality exhibitions and produce their own publications.  Stop by on the first Thursday of the month when they're open late...

  • 5.0 star rating

    yay for 49 geary! i went mid-april 2001 and fraenkel gallery had an artist from the uk who took the most beautiful pictures of beds in homeless shelters, but they looked like landscapes. the owner took us to the backroom, he has a man-servant lurk in the corridor to the storage area and bring us whatever he suggested. he has an amazing collection, irving penn, diane arbus,  stunning  experimental photograms, misrach.

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