Lee Friedlander: America By Car

At age seventy-three, Lee Friedlander doesn’t sleep. Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to present the first exhibition of Lee Friedlander’s new series of photographs, America by Car, on view from 14 February through 26 April, 2008.

Las Vegas, 1997
gelatin silver print, 20 x 16 inches (sheet) [50.8 x 40.6 cm]

Made over the last decade and in a majority of the country’s fifty states, America by Car is a vast compendium of the country’s eccentricities and obsessions at the turn of the century. All of the approximately fifty photographs that comprise the exhibition were made from the inside of a car, most often of the rental variety. Friedlander transforms the car’s windows into deliberate picture frames. A rearview mirror becomes a tool reflecting unexpected, fragmented juxtapositions.

Texas, 1997
gelatin silver print, 20 x 16 inches (sheet) [50.8 x 40.6 cm]

The combination of Friedlander’s optics married to the square format that has dominated his work in recent years produces radical foreshortening and extremely detailed views, both urban and rural. This is not, however, the first time Friedlander has used these framing devices. Elements of automotive architecture have appeared throughout the artist’s work since the 1960s. Yet Friedlander’s new photographs make compositional use of mirrors, windows, steering wheels and rental car leatherette in ways that both heighten and magnify contemporary America’s unique visual identity.

New York City, 2002
gelatinsilver print, 20 x 16 inches (sheet) [50.8 x 40.6 cm]

The second gallery will contain a selection of early photographs made by the artist in the 1960s and 1970s. These 35mm photographs directly foreshadow Friedlander’s lifelong preoccupation with America’s distinctive, visual landscape and the artist’s humorous and revelatory view of it from the driver’s seat.

Lee Friedlander has been the recipient of numerous awards throughout his career.  Most recently, he received the International Center of Photography’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.  The artist’s work is currently the subject of two major museum exhibitions: A Ramble in Olmsted Parks, on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, through May 11, 2008. Friedlander, the major traveling retrospective began in 2005 and organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, will be on view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art through May 18, 2008.

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