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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Lee Friedlander

Dates:  1934, 14 July -
Born:  US, WA, Aberdeen
Active:  US
 
  
American photographer.

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Lee Friedlander
Courtesy of the Victoria & Albert Museum (London, UK)

 
  
Together with figures such as Garry Winogrand and Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander transformed American documentary photography in the 1960's. By the late 1970's he was widely seen as one of the most penetrating photographers of American cities. In Friedlanderís images, surfaces are frequently broken, disrupted, or complicated; objects jut forward, obscuring others. Mirrors and windows reflect and refract events already in flux. Through his oblique take on the social and visual fabric of townscapes, unexpected patterns and social processes emerge. 
  
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Victoria & Albert Museum and is included here with permission. 
  
Date last updated: 11 Nov 2011. 
  
SHARED BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION PROJECT 
  
We welcome institutions and scholars willing to test the sharing of biographies for the benefit of the photo-history community. The biography above is a part of this trial.
 
If you find any errors please email us details so they can be corrected as soon as possible.
 
  

Biography provided by Focal Press 
  
In a stream of conscious that has spanned four decades and two-dozen books, Friedlander constructs an interior world that was not apparent until it was formally organized through his camera. The discontinuous urban landscape is raw material for a hybrid, formalized, and personalized aesthetic that reshaped American street photography. With satirical humor, Friedlander orders fragmented chaos to characterize his place within society as the defining concept of what he called "the American social landscape and its conditions." The urban landscape becomes a stage for an investigation of the human presence within its enclosures, juxtapositions, and reflective and transparent surfaces that form overlapping realities within a single frame. His images within images approach involves an often extremely complex piecing together, a reading of all the interconnected parts and signs to determine meaning. Favoring the ordinary subjects from televisions to trees, Friedlander works in series to do away with their hierarchical ordering, thus making objects, people, places, and time interchangeable. He forces viewers to search for a lone, human presence, often Friedlanderís shadow (an assimilated Jew), which could be anyoneís shadow, in a desolate landscape from which God has vanished. 
  
(Author: Robert Hirsch - Independent scholar and writer) 
  
Michael Peres (Editor-in-Chief), 2007, Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 4th edition, (Focal Press) [ISBN-10: 0240807405, ISBN-13: 978-0240807409] 
(Used with permission) 
  

Further research

 
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Lee Friedlander
Philadelphia 
1965
 
  
Family history 
  
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch. 
  
alan@luminous-lint.com
 
  
 
  

Visual indexes

 
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Visual indexes for this photographer are available for subscribers.There is so much more to explore when you subscribe. 
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Internet biographies

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Wikipedia has a biography of this photographer.Show on this siteGo to website
Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online (www.groveart.com) has a biography of this artist. 
[NOTE: This is a subscription service and you will need to pay an annual fee to access the content.]
Show on this siteGo to website
The Cleveland Museum of Art, USA has a biography on this photographer. [Scroll down the page on this website as the biography may not be immediately visible.]Show on this siteGo to website
 

Internet resources

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National Gallery of Art (Washington D.C.) 
http://www.nga.gov 
Has major collections of Harry Callahan, Walker Evans, Lee Friedlander, Robert Frank, Irving Penn and Alfred Stieglitz. There are a number of exhibitions on-line but to locate the holdings for an individual photographer you need to use the search options 
  
 

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

 
• Beaton, Cecil & Buckland, Gail 1975 The Magic Eye: The Genius of Photography from 1839 to the Present Day (Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown & Company) p.250 [Useful short biographies with personal asides and one or more example images.] 
  
• Capa, Cornell (ed.) 1984 The International Center of Photography: Encyclopedia of Photography (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc. - A Pound Press Book) p.213 
  
• Coke, Van Deren with Diana C. Du Pont 1986 Photography: A Facet of Modernism (New York: Hudson Hills Press, The San Francisco Museum of Art) p.173 
  
• Evans, Martin Marix (Executive ed.) 1995 Contemporary Photographers [Third Edition] (St. James Press - An International Thomson Publishing Company) [Expensive reference work but highly informative.] 
  
• International Center of Photography 1999 Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection (New York: A Bulfinch Press Book) p.216 [Includes a well written short biography on Lee Friedlander with example plate(s) earlier in book.] 
  
• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on Lee Friedlander.] 
  
• Weaver, Mike (ed.) 1989 The Art of Photography 1839-1989 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press) p.457 [This exhibition catalogue is for the travelling exhibition that went to Houston, Canberra and London in 1989.] 
  
• Witkin, Lee D. and Barbara London 1979 The Photograph Collector’s Guide (London: Secker and Warburg) p.145-146 [Long out of print but an essential reference work - the good news is that a new edition is in preparation.] 
  
 

Useful printed stuff

If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.

 
• Gruber, Renate and L. Fritz Gruber 1982 The Imaginary Photo Museum (New York: Harmony Books) p.248 
  
• Newhall, Beaumont 1982 The History of Photography - Fifth Edition (London: Secker & Warburg) [One or more photographs by Lee Friedlander are included in this classic history.] 
  
• Sobieszek, Robert A. and Deborah Irmas 1994 the camera i: Photographic Self-Portraits (Los Angeles: LACMA - Los Angeles County Museum of Art) p.217, Plate 101 [When the Audrey and Sydney Irmas collection was donated to LACMA - Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1992 the museum gained a remarkable collection of self portraits of notable photographers. If you need a portrait of Lee Friedlander this is a useful starting point.] 
  
• Szarkowski, John 1973 Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art (New York: The Museum of Modern Art) p.204 [Analyzes a single photograph by Lee Friedlander.] 
  
• Nature Conservancy 2001 In Response to Place: Photographs from the Nature Conservancy’s Last Great Places (Boston: Bulfinch Press - Little Brown and Company) [Location: Lee Friedlander covered for this book: San Pedro River, Arizona] 
  

Collections

Photographic collections are a useful means of examining large numbers of photographs by a single photographer on-line. 
  

 
In the 1990 survey of 535 American photographic collections Lee Friedlander was represented in 73 of the collections. Source: Andrew H. Eskind & Greg Drake (eds.) 1990 Index to American Photographic Collections [Second Enlarged Edition] (Boston, Massachusetts: G.K. Hall & Co.) 
  
Library of Congress, Washington, USA 
  
Approximate number of records: 1 
Note: A single record may contain more than one photograph.
Click here
 

Quotations

The wit and wisdom.

 
"I always wanted to be a photographer. I was fascinated with the materials. But I never dreamed I would be having this much fun. I imagined something much less elusive, much more mundane."
"Photography is a generous medium"
 
  
 
  
 
  
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