Since the late 1960s Bill Dane has been chronicling the life before our eyes, pursuing what curator and critic John Szarkowski called "the discovery of classical measure in the heart of God's own junkyard." By framing his shots to include just enough information to surprise or disorient the viewer, Dane offers a new perspective or, as he has put it, "a new reality." San Francisco (1973) is typical of the accepting distance and engaged humor with which he approaches his subjects. A sunbather seemingly attempts to block out the world, but the world goes by nonetheless (in three modes of transport) on the beach below. Movement and stasis exist on different planes and in opposite directions. The photographer's shadow at the bottom of the frame acts like a signature, a good natured sign of his complicity in the scene.


  • Title: San Francisco
  • Creator: Bill Dane
  • Creator Lifespan: 1938
  • Creator Nationality: American
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Birth Place: Pasadena, California
  • Date Created: 1973
  • Physical Dimensions: w2903.22 x h4354.83 in (image)
  • Type: photograph
  • Rights: © Bill Dane
  • External Link: SFMOMA
  • Medium: Gelatin silver print
  • Subject: San Francisco, United States
  • Place Part Of: United States
  • More Info: More About This Artist - SFMOMA
  • Credit Line: Gift of the artist
  • About the Artist: Dane studied political science and art at the University of California, Berkeley, obtaining a master's degree in painting in 1968. He painted for seven years before taking up photography after his studio and all of his paintings were destroyed in a fire. In 1969 he began sending black-and-white photographic postcards to friends and acquaintances, building an audience while circumventing and subverting the gallery system. Despite becoming an internationally exhibited and collected artist in the Robert Frank and Garry Winogrand tradition of American street photography, he continued to be generous with his work: over time he sent some 50,000 photo postcards before turning in 2007 to the Internet as a venue for making his body of work available to the public. Dane taught art in the Berkeley Public Schools for three decades.

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