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Sandra S. Phillips is the senior curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Phillips received a B.A. in art and art history from Bard College in 1967 and an M.A. from Bryn Mawr College in 1969. She earned a Ph.D. in art history in 1985 from City University of New York, where she specialized in the history of photography and American and European art from 1849 to 1940. Prior to joining SFMOMA she worked as a curator of the Vassar Art Gallery in Poughkeepsie, New York.
The most recent exhibitions that Phillips has organized and curated for SFMOMA are South Africa in Apartheid and After: David Goldblatt, Ernest Cole, Billy Monk; Rineke Dijkstra: A Retrospective; and Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera Since 1870. Over her career, she has curated and organized many major exhibitions, including Crossing the Frontier: Photographs of the Developing West, 1849 to the Present; William Klein, New York 1954–1955; Police Pictures: The Photograph as Evidence; Diane Arbus: Revelations; Larry Sultan: The Valley; Taking Place: Photographs from the Prentice and Paul Sack Collection; Beyond Real: Surrealist Photography and Sculpture from Bay Area Collections; Robert Adams: Turning Back; and two installments of Face of Our Time, an exhibition that brings together contemporary photographers working on concerns they have in the world and includes work by Yto Barrada, Judith Joy Ross, Guy Tillim, and others. Philips also co-organized Daido Moriyama: Stray Dog, and together with guest curator John Szarkowski, oversaw the exhibition Ansel Adams at 100 and contributed to the exhibition Public Information: Desire, Disaster, Document in collaboration with SFMOMA’s curators of media arts and painting and sculpture.
Phillips has authored or coauthored numerous catalogues, for the exhibitions listed above as well as Charmed Places: Hudson River Artists and Their Houses, Studios, and Vistas; Perpetual Motif: The Art of Man Ray; Eyes of Time: Photojournalism in America; and André Kertész: Of Paris and New York. Her articles and essays have appeared in such journals as Art in America, DoubleTake, and History of Photography, as well as in many books and catalogues edited by other scholars and institutions, such as those on Garry Winogrand, Diane Arbus, Rineke Dijkstra, Shomei Tomatsu, and Henry Wessel.
She received the Vision Award from the Center for Photography at Woodstock in 2013.
Sandra S. Phillips’s first and most recent books, André Kertész of Paris and New York, with David Travis and Weston Naef (Thames & Hudson, 1985), and Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera Since 1870, with Simon Baker and others (Yale University Press, 2010).