Lee Friedlander

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Lee Friedlander (born July 14, 1934) is an American photographer and artist. In the 1960s and 1970s Friedlander evolved an influential and often imitated visual language of urban "social landscape," with many of his photographs including fragments of store-front reflections, structures framed by fences, posters and street signs.

Life and work[edit]

Born in Aberdeen, Washington (1934)[1] to Fritz Friedlander (a Polish-Jewish émigré) and Kaari Nurmi (Finnish descent), Friedlander's mother Kari sadly died of cancer when her son was just seven years old. Already earning pocket-money as a photographer since he was 14, he went on at the age of 18, to study photography at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. In 1956, he moved to New York City, where he photographed jazz musicians for record covers, his early work was influenced by Eugène Atget, Robert Frank, and Walker Evans. In 1960 Friedlander was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to focus on his art, and was awarded subsequent grants in 1962 and 1977; some of his most famous photographs appeared in the September 1985 Playboy, black and white nude photographs of Madonna from the late 1970s. A student at the time, she was paid only $25 for her 1979 set. In 2009, one of the images fetched $37,500 at a Christie's Art House auction.[2]

Working primarily with Leica hand-held 35 mm cameras and black-and-white film, Friedlander's style focused on the "social landscape", his photographs used detached images of urban life, store-front reflections, structures framed by fences, and posters and signs all combining to capture the look of modern life.[citation needed]

In 1963, Nathan Lyons, Assistant Director and Curator of Photography at the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House mounted Friedlander's first solo exhibition.[3] Friedlander was then a key figure in curator John Szarkowski's 1967 "New Documents" exhibition, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York along with Garry Winogrand and Diane Arbus.[4][5] In 1973, his work was honored at the Rencontres d'Arles festival in France with the screening "Soirée américaine : Judy Dater, Jack Welpott, Jerry Uelsmann, Lee Friedlander" presented by Jean-Claude Lemagny. In 1990, the MacArthur Foundation awarded Friedlander a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2005, the Museum of Modern Art presented a major retrospective of Friedlander's career,[6] including nearly 400 photographs from the 1950s to the present; it was presented again in 2008 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.[7]

While suffering from arthritis and housebound, he focused on photographing his surroundings, his book Stems reflects his life during the time of his knee replacement surgery. He has said that his "limbs" reminded him of plant stems; these images display textures which were not a feature of his earlier work. In this sense, the images are similar to those of Josef Sudek who also photographed the confines of his home and studio.[citation needed]

Friedlander began photographing parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted for a six-year commission from the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal beginning in 1988. After completing the commission he continued to photograph Olmsted parks, for twenty years in total, his series includes New York City's Central Park; Brooklyn's Prospect Park; Manhattan's Morningside Park; World's End in Hingham, Massachusetts; Cherokee Park in Louisville, Kentucky; and Niagara Falls State Park. On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the design for Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art held an exhibition of Friedlander's photographs of that park and a book was published, Photographs: Frederick Law Olmsted Landscapes.[8][9]

It has been claimed that Friedlander is "notoriously media shy".[9]

He now works primarily with medium format cameras such as the Hasselblad Superwide.[citation needed]


  • E.J. Bellocq: Storyville Portraits. Photographs from the New Orleans Red-Light District, Circa 1912. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1970. With a preface by Friedlander.
  • Self Portrait.
    • New City, NY: Self-published / Haywire Press, 1970.
    • New York: Distributed Art Publishers; San Francisco: Fraenkel Gallery, 1998. ISBN 1-881616-96-7. Revised edition. By Friedlander and John Szarkowski.
    • New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2005. ISBN 0-87070-338-2. With a preface by Friedlander and an afterword by John Szarkowski, "The Friedlander Self". According to the colophon, "This third edition retains the new material of the 1998 edition except in its design, which returns to that of the original book."
  • The American Monument. New York: Eakins Press Foundation, 1976. ISBN 0-87130-043-5.
  • Lee Friedlander Photographs. New City, NY: Self-published / Haywire Press, 1978.
  • Factory Valleys: Ohio & Pennsylvania. New York: Callaway Editions, 1982. ISBN 0-935112-04-9.
  • Lee Friedlander Portraits. Boston: Little, Brown, 1985. ISBN 0-8212-1602-3.
  • Like a One-Eyed Cat: Photographs by Lee Friedlander, 1956-1987. New York: Harry N. Abrams in association with the Seattle Art Museum, 1989. ISBN 0-8109-1274-0.
  • CRAY at Chippewa Falls: Photographs by Lee Friedlander, Cray Research, Inc., 1987. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 86-73134
  • Nudes. New York: Pantheon, 1991. ISBN 0-679-40484-8.
  • The Jazz People of New Orleans. New York: Pantheon, 1992. ISBN 0-679-41638-2.
  • Maria. Washington: Smithsonian, 1992. ISBN 1-56098-207-1.
  • Letters from the People.
  • Bellocq: Photographs from Storyville, the Red-Light District of New Orleans. New York: Random House, 1996. ISBN 0-679-44975-2.
  • The Desert Seen. New York: Distributed Art Publishers, 1996. ISBN 1-881616-75-4.
  • Viewing Olmsted: Photographs by Robert Burley, Lee Friedlander, and Geoffrey James. Montréal: Canadian Centre for Architecture, 1996. ISBN 0-920785-58-1. By Phyllis Lambert.
  • American Musicians: Photographs by Lee Friedlander. New York: Distributed Art Publishers, 1998. ISBN 1-56466-056-7. By Friedlander, Steve Lacy, and Ruth Brown.
  • Lee Friedlander. San Francisco: Fraenkel Gallery, 2000. ISBN 1-881337-09-X.
  • Lee Friedlander at Work. New York: Distributed Art Publishers, 2002. ISBN 1-891024-48-5.
  • Stems. New York: Distributed Art Publishers, 2003. ISBN 1-891024-75-2.
  • Lee Friedlander: Sticks and Stones: Architectural America. San Francisco: Fraenkel Gallery, 2004. ISBN 1-891024-97-3. By Friedlander and James Enyeart.
  • Friedlander. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2005. ISBN 0-87070-343-9. By Peter Galassi.
  • Cherry Blossom Time in Japan: The Complete Works. San Francisco: Fraenkel Gallery, 2006. ISBN 1-881337-20-0.
  • Lee Friedlander: New Mexico. Santa Fe, NM: Radius Books, 2008. ISBN 978-1-934435-11-3. By Friedlander, Andrew Smith, and Emily Ballew Neff.
  • Photographs: Frederick Law Olmsted Landscapes. New York: Distributed Art Publishers, 2008. ISBN 978-1933045733.
  • America by Car. San Francisco: Fraenkel Gallery, 2010. ISBN 978-1-935202-08-0.
  • Portraits: The Human Clay: Volume 1. New Haven, CT: Yale University, 2015. ISBN 978-0-300-21520-5.
  • Children: The Human Clay: Volume 2. New Haven, CT: Yale University, 2015. ISBN 978-0-300-21519-9.
  • Street: The Human Clay: Volume 3. New Haven, CT: Yale University, 2016. ISBN 978-0-300-22177-0.
  • Head. Oakland, CA: TBW Books, 2017. Subscription Series #5, Book #4. ISBN 978-1-942953-28-9. Edition of 1000 copies. Friedlander, Mike Mandel, Susan Meiselas and Bill Burke each had one book in a set of four.



Solo exhibitions[edit]

Group exhibitions[edit]


His daughter Anna is married to Thomas Roma.

Further reading[edit]

  • Lee Friedlander: "The Little Screens" by Saul Anton, 2015, MIT Press


  1. ^ https://www.theartstory.org/artist-friedlander-lee-life-and-legacy.htm),
  2. ^ "Nude photo of Madonna goes for $37,500". CNN. 12 February 2009.
  3. ^ a b "McDonald, Jessica. Ed. Nathan Lyons : Selected Essays, Lectures, and Interviews. Harry Ransom Photography Series". Austin: University of Texas Press. 2012. Pg. 10.
  4. ^ a b "No. 21" (PDF). Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  5. ^ a b O'Hagan, Sean (20 July 2010). "Was John Szarkowski the most influential person in 20th-century photography?". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Friedlander", Museum of Modern Art. Accessed 31 December 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Exhibition Overview: Friedlander". San Francisco: Museum of Modern Art.
  8. ^ a b "Lee Friedlander: A Ramble in Olmsted Parks". Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  9. ^ a b Kennedy, Randy (3 January 2008). "Compositions That Come Naturally". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  10. ^ "Lee Friedlander". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Archived from the original on 26 December 2014. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  11. ^ "Medal Day History". MacDowell Colony. Archived from the original on 1 July 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  12. ^ "MacDowell Medal winners 1960-2011". London: The Daily Telegraph. 13 April 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  13. ^ Holland, Bernard (10 August 1987). "Bernstein Wins MacDowell Medal". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  14. ^ "MacArthur Foundation". www.macfound.org. Retrieved 2018-07-21.
  15. ^ Royal Photographic Society's Centenary Award Accessed 13 August 2012
  16. ^ "Lee Friedlander". Hasselblad Foundation. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  17. ^ "2006 Infinity Award: Lifetime Achievement". International Center of Photography. 3 April 2006. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  18. ^ "The Lucie Awards". Lucie Awards. Retrieved 2018-08-09.
  19. ^ "Fraenkel Gallery: Past and future exhibitions". Art Net.
  20. ^ "Lee Friedlander: America By Car, September 4 – November 28, 2010". Whitney Museum of American Art. Retrieved 2010-12-14.
  21. ^ "Lee Friedlander in Louisiana". New Orleans Museum of Art. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  22. ^ "Lee Friedlander: American Musicians". New Orleans Museum of Art. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  23. ^ Lyons, Nathan (1966). Toward a Social Landscape: Bruce Davidson, Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand, Danny Lyons, Duane Michals. New York, NY: Horizon Press. OCLC 542009.

External links[edit]