Friedlander, Lee (Norman)

American (1934-)


Influenced by Eugene Atget and Walker Evans, Lee Frieldander is most often recognized for his unpopulated images of the American urban landscape: store window reflections, poster-covered walls and fences, alleys and street corners. Each of his shots is formally intriguing, experimenting with frames-within-frames and varying degrees of transparency or opacity. Friedlander’s fascination with Americana has played out in several larger projects. “The American Monument” contains pictures of over 100 national memorials to war heroes, public figures and historic events, while “Factory Valleys,” commissioned by the Akron Art Museum documents the dying sites of industry in the Ohio River Valley.

Friedlander began photographing at the age of 14, citing “fascination with the equipment” as a driving force. After completing his studies, he moved to NYC in 196, where he was befriended by the likes of Diane Arbus, Garry Winogrand and Helen Levitt, and received some of his first commissions to shoot jazz musicians for their record covers. At age 26, he was one of the youngest recipients of a Guggenheim grant, which allowed him to focus on an artistic career instead of a string of mediocre jobs. This resulted in projects like Works from the Same House, a book collaboration with pop artist Jim Dine, in which Dine’s etchings and Friedlander’s images faced each other on opposite pages, suggesting a relationship for the viewer. In the 70s, Friedlander’s work appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated and Playboy. More recently, while suffering from arthritis and confined to his home, Friedlander has focused on shooting his immediate surroundings, resulting in the melancholy collection, Stems.