Friedlander, the largest and most comprehensive survey to date of the works of photographer Lee Friedlander, provides a rare opportunity to witness the range of his subject matter, intelligence and wit of his work. The international touring exhibition makes its final stop at the Cleveland Museum of Art
(CMA) through May 31, 2009.
The exhibition contains more than 350 prints as well as examples of Friedlanders special edition and trade books, tracing the five decades that mark his rich career. This retrospective organizes his work into numerous discrete groups of images, each defined narrowly by date, theme and style, and all revealing the subtle variations that distinguish his expansive vision. With sly humor and graphic spirit, Friedlander eagerly scans the ordinary with an inquisitive eye to record distinctly American scenes and images.
Lee Friedlander is the ultimate documenter of the modern American social landscape, said Tom Hinson, CMA curator of photography and curator for the Cleveland showing. This retrospectivethe largest and most complete ever mountedpresents an exciting and rare opportunity to witness the range of his subject matter, as well as the wit of his photographs.
Friedlanders photographs have become iconic representations of modern American life. Born in 1934, he gained fame in the early 1960s with off-balance street photographs that evoke the complexity of modern urban existence. Always working in series, Friedlander mines the American social landscape, beginning with a layered view of city streetsshop fronts, ads, televisions, and cars. This central theme is generously supplemented by portraits, self-portraits, landscapes, still lifes, nudes, and studies of people at work. This body of work stands as one of the major achievements in 20th-century art, combining astute observation and graphic verve to present a compelling vision of contemporary America.
Friedlander reviews the four phases of the photographers career: his early years as a freelance photographer; his images of the American social landscape of the 1960s; his graceful and deep observations of the 1970s and 1980s; and his recent works of natural landscapes and the American west.
Exhibition highlights include:
Galax, Virginia, 1962 A standout from Friedlanders series of televisions in nondescript hotel rooms during his travels as a freelance photographer, when the television became a focal subject for him.
New York City, 1966 Typical of Friedlanders work from the 60s, in this image he places himself in the composition through shadow. The viewer witnesses the wit and irony of the photographers ego stepping into the frame.
New Orleans, Louisiana, 1968 During the late 60s Friedlander spends a significant amount of time in New Orleans. In this image, he continues the motif of the inclusion of the photographer within the photograph, yielding an ambiguous sense of what is inside and what is outside.
Father Duffy. Times Square, New York City, 1974 A key work of Friedlanders American monument series in which he photographed statues, monuments and plaques, this shot examines what has happened to the surrounding environment over time.
Canton, Ohio, 1980 A highlight of his Factory Valleys photographic series, this marks Friedlanders first time shooting people at work and the first time he was invited to capture images within a private setting.
Lake Louise, Canada, 2000 A highlight from Friedlanders landscape work, this image is grand, majestic and amazingly organized.
Las Vegas, Nevada, 2002 Friedlander returns to photographing landscapes, this time from a car as he captures the irony of being in Las Vegas, viewing a pretend New York City. The large frame of reference includes the car mirror , highlighting the unselfconscious irony of the shot.
Friedlanders Factory Valleys at Akron Art Museum
Lee Friedlander's photographic series, Factory Valleys, conceived 30 years ago, is recognized as a milestone both in the artist's career and in the history of documentary photography. It was his first foray into photographing people at work and was his first time shooting within a private setting unlike his previous work done in public. The Akron Art Museum, which commissioned the work, revisits the project by exhibiting nearly 60 vintage photographs, all from the Akrons collection. This exhibition, on view at the Akron Art Museum from February 28 May 31, 2009, is a regional collaboration with the Friedlander retrospective at CMA. Both exhibitions will touch upon the regions industrial influence on this master photographer. For more information visit www.akronartmuseum.org