Lee Friedlander (b. 1934) began photographing the American social landscape in 1948. With an ability to organize a vast amount of visual information in dynamic compositions, Friedlander has made humorous and poignant images among the chaos of city life, dense natural landscape, and countless other subjects. Friedlander is also recognized for a group of self-portraits he began in the 1960s, reproduced in Self Portrait, an exploration that he turned to again in the late 1990s, and published in a monograph by Fraenkel Gallery in 2000.
Included among the many monographs designed and published by Friedlander himself are Sticks and Stones, Lee Friedlander: Photographs, Letters From the People, Apples and Olives, Cherry Blossom Time in Japan, Family, and At Work. Starting in 2017, the artist and Yale University Press released an ambitious six-book suite collectively titled The Human Clay – a sweeping collection of street and environmental portraits culled and edited by Friedlander from his extensive archive, many not previously published.
Friedlander’s work was included in the highly influential 1967 “New Documents” exhibition curated by John Szarkowski at the Museum of Modern Art. In 2005, Friedlander was the recipient of the prestigious Hasselblad Award as well as the subject of a major traveling retrospective and catalog organized by the Museum of Modern Art. In 2010, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York exhibited the entirety of his body of work “America by Car.” In 2017, Yale University Art Gallery exhibited and published some of his earliest work, 1957 photographs of participants of the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom in Washington, D.C. His work is held by major collections including Art Institute of Chicago, George Eastman Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The National Gallery of Art, San Francisco Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and many others.
Photo by Nancy Crampton