Lee Friedlander, Las Vegas, Nevada, 2007, from the series America by Car, 1995-2009. Gelatin silver print, 38.1 x 38.1 cm. Collection of the artist; courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

Lee Friedlander's Automobile Version of a Grand Tour of America

Lee Friedlander, Texas, 2006, from the series America by Car, 1995-2009. Gelatin silver print, 38.1 x 38.1 cm. Collection of the artist; courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

Lee Friedlander, Alaska, 2007, from the series America by Car, 1995-2009. Gelatin silver print, 15 x 15 in. (38.1 x 38.1 cm. Collection of the artist; courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

Lee Friedlander, Arizona, 2007, from the series America by Car, 1995-2009. Gelatin silver print, 38.1 x 38.1 cm. Collection of the artist; courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

Lee Friedlander, Arizona, 2007, from the series America by Car, 1995-2009. Gelatin silver print, 38.1 x 38.1 cm. Collection of the artist; courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

 

Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street
800-944-8639
New York
Emily Fisher Landau Galleries, fourth floor
Lee Friedlander: America by Car
September 4-November 28, 2010

Driving across most of the country’s 50 states in an ordinary rental car, master photographer Lee Friedlander (b. 1934) applied the brilliantly simple conceit of deploying the sideview mirror, rearview mirror, the windshield, and the side windows as picture frames within which to record reflections of this country’s eccentricities and obsessions at the beginning of the 21st century. Friedlander’s method allows for fascinating effects in foreshortening, and wonderfully telling juxtapositions in which steering wheels, dashboards, and leatherette bump up against roadside bars, motels, churches, monuments, suspension bridges, essential American landscapes, and often Friedlander’s own image. Presented in the square crop format that has dominated his work in recent series, and taken over the past decade, the images in America by Car are among Friedlander’s finest, full of virtuoso freshness and clarity, while also revisiting themes from older bodies of work.

Friedlander studied photography at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. In 1956, he moved to New York City where he photographed jazz musicians for record covers. His early work was influenced by Eugène Atget, Robert Frank, and Walker Evans. In 1960, the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded Friedlander a grant to focus on his art and made subsequent grants in 1962 and 1977. Some of his most famous photographs appeared in the September 1985 Playboy, black and white nude photographs of Madonna from the late 1970s. A student at the time, she was paid only $25 for her 1979 set, and in 2009, one of the images fetched $37,500 at a Christie's Art House auction.

Working primarily with Leica 35mm cameras and black and white film, Friedlander's style focused on the "social landscape". His art used detached images of urban life, store-front reflections, structures framed by fences, and posters and signs all combining to capture the look of modern life.

In 1963, the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House mounted Friedlander's first solo museum show. Friedlander was then a key figure in curator John Szarkowski's 1967 New Documents exhibition, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City along with Garry Winogrand and Diane Arbus. In 1990, the MacArthur Foundation awarded Friedlander a MacArthur Fellowship.

Friedlander now works primarily with medium format cameras (e.g. Hasselblad Superwide). While suffering from arthritis and housebound, he focused on photographing his surroundings. His book, Stems, reflects his life during the time of his knee replacement surgery. He has said that his "limbs" reminded him of plant stems. These images display textures which were not a feature of his earlier work. In this sense, the images are similar to those of Josef Sudek who also photographed the confines of his home and studio.

In 2005, the Museum of Modern Art presented a major retrospective of Friedlander's career, including nearly 400 photographs from the 1950s to the present. In the same year he received a Hasselblad International Award. The retrospective exhibition was presented again in 2008 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).Concurrent to this retrospective, a more contemporary body of his work, America By Car, was displayed at the Fraenkel Gallery not far from SFMOMA.

He is the father of cellist Erik Friedlander, and Anna Friedlander.

Lee Friedlander: America By Car is organized by Elisabeth Sussman, Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography.

Lee Friedlander, Montana, 2008, from the series America by Car, 1995-2009. Gelatin silver print, 38.1 x 38.1 cm. Collection of the artist; courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

Lee Friedlander, Montana, 2008, from the series America by Car, 1995-2009. Gelatin silver print, 38.1 x 38.1 cm. Collection of the artist; courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

Lee Friedlander, Arizona, 2007, from the series America by Car, 1995-2009. Gelatin silver print, 15 × 15 in. (38.1 × 38.1 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

Lee Friedlander, Montana, 2008, from the series America by Car, 1995-2009. Gelatin silver print, 38.1 x 38.1 cm. Collection of the artist; courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

Lee Friedlander, Miles Davis, 1969, Ink jet print, 14-9/16 x 14-1/2", MoMA accession #1162.2000.

Lee Friedlande, California, 1997, Gelatin silver print, 14-15/16 x 14-13/16". Robert and Joyce Menschel Fund. MoMA accession 547.1998.

The Prolific Lee Friedlander's 'Social Landscape' of America

Lee Friedlander. Nude, 1982, Gelatin silver print, 8-1/16 x 12-1/16", MoMA accession #588.2000.

Lee Friedlander, New York City, 1966, Gelatin silver print, 5-3/4 x 8-11/16", Carl Jacobs Fund. MoMA accession #669.2000.

Lee Friedlander, Lake Louise, Canada, 2000, Gelatin silver print. 18-3/4 x 18-9/16", Gift of the photographer. MoMA accession #368.2005.

Lee Friedlander. New Mexico, 2001, Gelatin silver print, 14-15/16 x 14-3/4", Gift of the photographer. MoMA accession #326.2005.

 

Minneapolis Institute of Arts
2400 Third Avenue South
612-870-3131
Minneapolis
Friedlander: Photography
June 29-September 14, 2008

The largest comprehensive retrospective of the photography of Lee Friedlander (American, b. 1934) is on view at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA). This impressive overview — including color and black-and-white portraits of musicians in the 1950s and 1960s, and several hundred prints tracing Friedlander’s inexhaustible visual appetite for subjects ranging from female nudes and contemporary cityscapes to civic monuments and television sets — outlines the scope of one of the most prolific careers in the history of photography. Friedlander’s distinctly American images, inflected with a sharp wit and sense of humor, have captivated the art world for a half-century.

Friedlander: Photography presents this prodigious career in chronological fashion, in groups organized by subject. Illuminating five decades, these images track the growth of Friedlander’s work and offer a vivid vision of what he calls the “American social landscape.” This central theme provides countless jumping-off points for Friedlander’s photography, which has also found excellent source material in Japan, Italy, and Great Britain. The broad quality of Friedlander’s interests are suggested by an alpha-numeric series (“Letters from the People”) and a series of American West landscapes presented for the first time in this exhibition. The exhibition is organized by Museum of Modern Art, New York (MoMa), and accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.

The Early Years Born in 1934 in Aberdeen, Washington, Friedlander fell in love with photography as a teenager. He studied at the Art Center School in Los Angeles in 1952, and in 1955 he moved to the New York City area, where he still lives. For the next fifteen years he worked steadily as a freelance photographer for various magazines, including Sports Illustrated, Holiday, and Seventeen. His other line of work, portraits of musicians for their album covers, grew out of his lifelong love of jazz and other music. Color portraits of John Coltrane, Aretha Franklin, and Miles Davis are among the few examples of Friedlander’s commercial work on display in the exhibition.

The 1960s Friedlander’s professional work honed his craft and introduced him to a widening circle of friends. Pictures by Walker Evans and Robert Frank inspired him to train his eye on everyday American scenes such as streets, cars, storefronts, and billboards. Friedlander’s work showed a playfulness and talent for taking advantage of elements considered by most to be obstacles. In his pictures, a pole often gets in the way; the frame cuts off something important; a plate-glass window confuses inside and out; the photographer’s own shadow or reflection intrudes. Friedlander’s lively, irreverent glimpses of the city streets and his tongue-in-cheek self-portraits of the 1960s upended the earnest humanism of postwar photography.

The 1970s and 1980s The Pop-inspired wit and graphic verve that mark Friedlander’s first maturity never disappeared from his work. Beginning in the early 1970s, however, his sensibility and style broadened, yielding a fluid stream of observation, ever more graceful and sensuous. His pictures became richly descriptive and alert to subtle variations of texture and light. Another factor was his growing affection for tradition, notably for the work of Eugène Atget.

Affectionate portraits of family and friends became a major part of his work and a barometer of his evolving style. In contrast, his studies of workers in the Ohio and Pennsylvania factories in the 1970s are admiring and intimate without pretending to be portraits. Instead, they are tributes to the skill and steady concentration of people “making things we all use,” as Friedlander later put it. Over the next two decades, five more commissions enabled him to extend the theme, from office workers at computers to telemarketers on the phone.

The 1990s In the early 1990s, Friedlander’s growing desire to photograph the grand natural landscape of the American West prompted him to trade in his Leica for a Superwide Hasselblad, which with its unusually sharp and wide lens, was ideally suited to the Western views he started to make. These convoluted scenes, at once magisterial and bizarre, testify to the intensity of Friedlander’s passion for looking and to the capacity of his art to infect others with that passion.

George Slade, adjunct assistant curator in the Department of Photographs at Minneapolis Institute of Arts, curates the exhibition for MIA. Slade is artistic director of Minnesota Center for Photography, and was awarded a grant from Creative Capital / Warhol Arts Grant Writer Program in 2007 for his book Looking Homeward: Notes on a Photographic Minnesota.

Exhibition Catalogue The exhibition is accompanied by the publication Friedlander, by Peter Galassi, Chief Curator, Department of Photography, MoMA, with an essay by Richard Benson. Published by Museum of Modern Art, New York, it includes more than 800 reproductions, and a comprehensive catalogue of Friedlander’s books, special editions, and portfolios. Distributed in the U.S. and Canada by D.A.P. and internationally by Thames & Hudson; 480 pages; 860 illustrations. Paperback versions are available in the Museum Shop, $55.

Lee Friedlander. Las Vegas, Nevada, 2002, Gelatin silver print, 14-7/8 x 14-3/4", Gift of the photographer, MoMA accession #328.2005.

Lee Friedlander (American, born 1934), Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York, 1989, Gelatin silver print, Collection of the artist, © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

Lee Friedlander's Photographs of Frederick Law Olmsted's Parks

Lee Friedlander (American, born 1934), Rockwood, Tarrytown, New York, 1992, Gelatin silver print, Collection of the artist, © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

Lee Friedlander (American, born 1934), Central Park, New York City, New York, 1993, Gelatin silver print,
Collection of the artist, © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

Lee Friedlander (American, born 1934), Lake Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1992, Gelatin silver print,
Collection of the artist, © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

 

Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
New York
212-535-7710

Howard Gilman Gallery
Lee Friedlander:
A Ramble in Olmsted Parks

January 22-May 11, 2008

Renowned for his complex, idiosyncratic picture-making, Lee Friedlander began photographing parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted for a 1988 commission from the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal.

The artist's interest in landscape, however, began much earlier, and he continued to photograph Olmsted parks long after he completed the commission. In addition to numerous photographs of Central Park, Friedlander's series encompasses many other famous and beloved landscapes by Olmsted, including: Brooklyn's Prospect Park; Manhattan's Riverside Park; World's End in Hingham, Massachusetts; and Cherokee Park in Louisville, Kentucky.

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the design for Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted's 843-acre New York City masterpiece, The Metropolitan Museum of Art presents Lee Friedlander: A Ramble in Olmsted Parks.

The exhibition features approximately 40 photographs, most never before on public display. Friedlander describes these striking photographs, culled from a 20-year exploration of public parks and private estates designed by North America's premier landscape architect, as "one photographer's pleasurable and wandering glances at places that bear the great vision of Mr. Olmsted."

Rambling with his camera through the parks' open meadows and dense understory, Friedlander finds pure pleasure in Olmsted's landscapes — in the meticulous stonework, in the careful balance of sun and shade, and in the mature, weather-beaten trees and their youthful issue.

With this series, the artist has also explored a variety of camera formats that provide surprising perspectives on each park's intricate balance of features, especially the overlapping layers of trees, leaves, grasses, architecture.

The photographs offer fresh appreciation for Olmsted parks as invented worlds designed to delight the eye and offer, as Olmsted wrote, "healthful recreation" for the public.

By providing worthy testimony to our era's renewed interest in preserving the finest landscape architecture of the nineteenth century, Friedlander's black-and-white photographs celebrate the essential pleasures of seeing and being in these living works of art.

Born in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1934, Lee Friedlander had his first solo show in 1963 at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York; four years later he exhibited with Diane Arbus and Garry Winogrand in the landmark New Documents exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. In his distinguished career, he has received awards from the MacArthur Foundation and the Hasselblad Foundation and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. His photographs have been the subject of two dozen books, including Self Portrait, The American Monument, Letters from the People, The Desert Seen, Sticks & Stones: Architectural America, and Friedlander, the catalogue for his 2005 MoMA retrospective.

Lee Friedlander: A Ramble in Olmsted Parks is organized by Jeff L. Rosenheim, Curator in the Department of Photographs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The exhibition accompanied by the publication Lee Friedlander Photographs: Frederick Law Olmstead Landscapes, including 89 images and an introduction by the artist. The book was released in January 2008 by DAP ($85). The exhibition will also coincide with the publication of the Museum's Winter 2008 Bulletin, featuring an essay on the history of the creation of Central Park by Morrison H. Heckscher, Lawrence A. Fleischman Chairman of the Metropolitan Museum's American Wing.

Lee Friedlander (American, born 1934), Central Park, New York City, 1994, Gelatin silver print,
Collection of the artist, © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

Lee Friedlander (American, born 1934), Shawnee Park, Louisville, Kentucky, 1990, Gelatin silver print, Collection of the artist, © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.