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Lee Friedlander: Cherry Blossom Time in Japan: The Complete Works

I first went to Japan in 1977 and found the whole country ablaze with blossom. I went again in 1979, 1981 and 1984, always at cherry-blossom time. As far as I knew, Japan was always abloom.—Lee Friedlander

Lee Friedlander’s publication Cherry Blossom Time in Japan: The Complete Works, presents, for the first time, the artist’s complete set of seventy-three images made during four trips to Japan between 1977 and 1984. The groundbreaking images—first seen as twenty-five photogravures in a 1986 portfolio, and long out of print—appear as examples of radical picture-making even years later. Friedlander takes on the subject in the black and white (few serious photographers would have dared to photograph cherry blossoms with anything other than color film) and allows for compositions bordering on visual chaos. The result is a new kind of beauty. The cherry blossoms serve as a precursor for much of Friedlander’s late landscape work, which was exhibited to acclaim his retrospective organized by The Museum of Modern Art in 2005. Printed by the laborious dry-trap process (in which one ink at a time is laid on its page and must dry before the next ink is printed), the sensuous reproductions closely approximate the original prints. Friedlander oversaw the book’s production and was involved in every aspect of printing and design. Cherry Blossom Time in Japan is the artist’s forty-ninth book since 1969, and evidences a master at the peak of his form.