Exhibition: ‘Hunted and Gathered: Photographs’ from the Private Collection of Robert Flynn Johnson at Modernism, San Franciso

Exhibition dates: July 9th – August 29th, 2009


Anonymous. 'The Dancer, Ted Shawn, Boston Dance Theater' 1929


‘The Dancer, Ted Shawn, Boston Dance Theater’


Pierre Nobel. 'Still Life' c.1935


Pierre Nobel
‘Still Life’


Charles Jones. 'Plum, Laxton Early Red' c.1910


Charles Jones
‘Plum, Laxton Early Red’


Anonymous. 'Acrobat Piroska at the Latin Quarter (Published in Life Magazine)' c.1945


‘Acrobat Piroska at the Latin Quarter (Published in Life Magazine)’



Modernism presents a wonderful and intriguing selection of photographs from the private collection of Robert Flynn Johnson. Robert Flynn Johnson is emeritus faculty in the Printmaking department. He is the curator in charge of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, a position he has held since 1975.

This exhibition coincides with the publication of his second book on vernacular photography, The Face in the Lens: Anonymous Photographs (University of California Press).

“When I am asked what it takes to become an accomplished collector, it is not the qualities of knowledge, judgment or that elusive term “taste” that comes to mind. Instead, it is the ability to be curious that is the crucial element in the makeup of a true collector – the ability to ask questions, to learn, and to get answers regarding works of art that catch your eye and move your emotions,” Robert Flynn Johnson said.

He added, “For more than thirty-five years I have followed my curiosity in passionately seeking out photographs that have stirred my imagination. Some of them have been by great artistic masters of the medium, while others have been anonymous photographic orphans that have nothing going for them but the image itself. Both types of photographs are included in this exhibition.”

“I have made a varied, and some may say eccentric, selection of images. From a heart-stopping snapshot of acrobats posed in a three-man handstand perched on the ledge of the 108th floor of the Empire State building, to a tender portrait of Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio that captures the instant before their lips meet in their first kiss as a married couple, They these pictures are a true reflection of my collecting philosophy that is attracted to profound, beautiful, humorous, and absurd aspects of life and art.”

“Nevertheless, I hope they these works convey some of the visual surprise and delight to you that I felt when I first saw each and every one of them.”

Oscar Wilde once said that the only person that liked all art equally was an auctioneer! I do not expect viewers to appreciate all the photographs in this exhibition, but through my visual curiosity in collecting them over time, I did, and that is why they are here together today.”

Text from Artdaily.org website


Anonymous. 'Czechoslovakia Train' c.1930


‘Czechoslovakia Train’


Anonymous. 'United Kingdom Train' c.1930


‘United Kingdom Train’


Sasha. 'Archer Leaping Through the Air' c.1930


‘Archer Leaping Through the Air’


Leopold Hugo. 'Craters of the Moon, Idaho' 1920


Leopold Hugo
‘Craters of the Moon, Idaho’



685 Market St., Suite 290
San Francisco, CA 94105

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 5:30pm

Modernism website

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2 Responses to “Exhibition: ‘Hunted and Gathered: Photographs’ from the Private Collection of Robert Flynn Johnson at Modernism, San Franciso”

  1. August 11, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Interesting photos–thanks for posting.

  2. 2 guardadocumentos
    August 11, 2009 at 8:52 am

    very nice collection, beautiful photos.

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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