Opening! Go Inside Trevor Traina’s Jaw-Dropping Photography Collection at the de Young Museum


For photo buffs the photographs in Trevor Traina’s private collection are astounding. In April, he let California Home+Design inside his home for a sneak peek at his collection.

He owns classic prints by Robert Frank and Lee Friedlander, more modern ones by Cindy Sherman and Diane Arbus, and contemporary photos by Andreas Gursky and Ryan McGinley.

“Fashion Shoot for Amica,” New York, 1999, Martin Parr British, b. 1952

Artwork by all of these photographers and more can now be seen at the Real to Real: Photographs from the Traina Collection exhibition, which just opened at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

“I am an art omnivore, I love all things beautiful. I come from a family of collectors,” San Francisco native Traina said at a recent press preview for the show. “Every piece that’s in this collection I had to think about and fight for. There’s a lot of Sophie’s Choice in this collection.”

New York City, 1996, Lee Friedlander American, b. 1934

Rather than working chronologically, the exhibit is divided into four different themed galleries: every day, excesses, spectacular, and losses. The show features around 110 pieces by more than 40 photographers.

“The Trevor Traina collection has a rich dialog of ideas across time periods,” said Julian Cox, the founding curator of photography at the Fine Arts Museums, who co-curated the exhibit. “We really tried to shuffle the deck in a playful way.”

“Charles,” Vasa, Minnesota, 2002, Alec Soth American

Among the stunning photographs is the haunting black and white Diane Arbus image of two young twin girls in matching black dresses, a photograph that Traina called, “one of the images of the century.” Or the print by William Eggleston of a bright red room, of which Traina said, “It’s impossible to imagine it in black and white. It says to me, ‘Color is here and it isn’t to be denied.’”

“BMX,” 2000, Ryan McGinley American, b. 1977

Traina also owns several works by the contemporary celebrated photographer Alec Soth, whose cinematic photos take a glimpse into people’s lives in small Midwestern towns. “For me photography is all about longing—stopping time and holding the world in our hands,” Soth said during the press preview for the show.

Real to Real: Photographs from the Traina Collection is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and is on display at the de Young Museum in San Francisco through September 16.

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