San Francisco collectors: The di Rosa collection
Ms Clingfree, Ektacolor print, 1982 © Judy Dater
Untitled #1862, C-print, 1998 © Todd Hido
Untitled, c-print, 1980 © Larry Sultan
Untitled 1979 (Lindos), Ektacolor c-print, 1979 © Richard Misrach
Seduction, photograph, 1990 © Lynn Hershman Leeson
Coffee Gallery San Francisco 1960, photograph, 1960 © Imogen Cunningham
Teardrop Angel, gelatin silver print, 1974 © Bruce Conner
Two Sisters in Aviator Hats, California, gelatin silver prints, 1988 © Leon Borensztein
Catherine Wagner, 7th & 8th Grade Science Classroom, Moss Landing Elementary School, gelatin silver print, 1984 © Catherine Wagner
Skull And Rosary, gelatin silver print, 1945 © Ruth Bernhard
San Francisco, CA, gelatin silver print, 1972 © Henry Wessel
The next stop for our private collection tour involves a trip north to the Carneros Appellation of California wine country. This trip should be combined with a visit to several of the tasting rooms in the area. There are few better places to eat and drink really well in perfect summer weather.
di Rosa, formerly the vineyard and private home for the di Rosa family winery, specializes in Bay Area art. Rene di Rosa became enamored of the arts while at UC Davis, a hotbed of the arts several decades ago. He collected mostly, but not exclusively, artists from Northern California. One must make an appointment to view the collection, which is spread out over several buildings and the grounds, whittled down to 200 acres.
It is highly unlikely that any other collector on the planet has focused on the art from one relatively small region and for that reason it is highly interesting. In the sixties, when di Rosa began to collect, there was very little institutional support for photography.
Bay Area artists and photographers chose to live and work here. The breed of artists here are arguably more iconoclastic and more likely to have migrated here because life is more open and free. There is almost a mandate to remake oneself, experiment and redefine what photography is without the commercial pressures of New York. The work tends to be more experimental, more about the experience of the Self, and much less commercial than work coming out of New York.
Among the paintings and sculpture, there is a great deal of photography on view and, as a San Francisco Bay Area native I found myself proud to see work by international icons, many of whom are still living and teaching in the Bay Area Here is a partial list:
Lynn Hershman Leeson
The photography on view is not arranged by theme or subject and will be up through the summer. It is just a jumble of well-loved works mixed together. The volunteer docents here were wonderful people – cheerful, able to keep our group together and on task, but ultimately none of them knew much more than their script. As with Pier 24, the visit is limited to two hours and one is shuttled from site to site. I loved my visit to the di Rosa, and was mightily impressed by the commitment and passion to the arts, but, while the quality of the work is superb, the curation needs intellectual rigor. Nonetheless, you will have plenty to discuss over a glass of sparkling wine at any of the nearby wineries.