Lee Friedlander

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This article is about the photographer. For the film director, see Lee Friedlander (film director).
Lee Friedlander
Lee Friedlander 1960 Self Portrait.jpg
Self portrait (1960)
Born (1934-07-14) July 14, 1934 (age 80)
Aberdeen, Washington, U.S.
Known for Photographer

Lee Friedlander (born July 14, 1934) is an American photographer and artist. In the 1960s and 70s, working primarily with 35 mm cameras and black and white film, 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]

Friedlander studied 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.[1]

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.

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.[2] Friedlander was then a key figure in curator John Szarkowski's 1967 "New Documents" exhibition, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City along with Garry Winogrand and Diane Arbus. 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.

Friedlander now works primarily with medium format cameras such as the Hasselblad Superwide.

Whilst 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.

In 2005, the Museum of Modern Art presented a major retrospective of Friedlander's career, including nearly 400 photographs from the 1950s to the present. The retrospective exhibition was presented again in 2008 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.[3] Concurrent to this retrospective, a more contemporary body of his work, America By Car, was displayed at the Fraenkel Gallery, also in San Francisco.[4] America By Car was on display at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City in late 2010.[5]

Selected books[edit]



  1. ^ "Nude photo of Madonna goes for $37,500". CNN. 12 February 2009. 
  2. ^ "McDonald, Jessica. Ed. Nathan Lyons : Selected Essays, Lectures, and Interviews. Harry Ransom Photography Series.". Austin: University of Texas Press. 2012. Pg. 10. 
  3. ^ "Exhibition Overview: Friedlander". San Francisco: Museum of Modern Art. 
  4. ^ "Fraenkel Gallery: Past and future exhibitions". Art Net. 
  5. ^ "Lee Friedlander: America By Car, September 4 – November 28, 2010". Whitney Museum of American Art. Retrieved 2010-12-14. 
  6. ^ "Lee Friedlander". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  7. ^ Royal Photographic Society's Centenary Award Accessed 13 August 2012
  8. ^ "Lee Friedlander". Hasselblad Foundation. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 

External links[edit]