Born 1934, Lee Friedlander, often referred to as “a photographer’s photographer,” is one of the most influential and widely published photographers of our time. While more than eight books and monographs exist of Friedlander’s work, there are many more images which, due to the breadth of his vision, are rarely seen. This exhibition affords an opportunity to see over thirty-five photographs and photogravures which are unpublished or rarely exhibited, the little-known gems of a well-known career.
Taking little from the contributions of his contemporaries, Lee Friedlander stands out as one of the greats whose work has dominated American photography since the 1960s. His images have assured him a place of honor among the photographers he admires: Atget, Evans, Cartier-Bresson, and Frank. His crowded, tense and often humorous images, and skein-like interlocking of pictorial elements are so complex and so thoroughly defy traditional notions of photographic composition, that they are literally incomprehensible to many initial viewing, and are interpreted by some as metaphors for the obdurate chaos that is modern life. With a small, hand-held camera and a hawk’s eye for the unnoticed, Friedlander has forged as unmistakable style. What others may pass by as unphotogenic, Friedlander gently tucks into his lexicon: an unpeopled street with mysterious deep shadows, a cacophony of reflections in windows, a tangle of branches and blooms. His vision, his style, his wordless visual assertions have unequivocally affected the ways many contemporary photographers envisage the urban environment.
Among Friedlander’s numerous honors, he has received three Guggenheim fellowships, three grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was recently the first photographer to receive the prestigious MacDowell Award.