On display 1 September – 1 October, 2011, for the first time in the UK, the Timothy Taylor Gallery will present an exhibition of recent work by the influential and critically acclaimed American photographer Lee Friedlander. This will be Friedlanderʼs first solo exhibition in London since his 1976 show at the Photographersʼ Gallery.
Lee Friedlander, from the America by Car series, 1995-2009, Montana, 2008, Gelatin silver print, Collection of the artist; courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco 2011.
In America By Car, Friedlander uses the quintessential icons of US culture -cars and the open road- to explore contemporary America, revisiting in the process many of the places and strategies that he has incorporated into his practice throughout his career, charting the numerous journeys made by the photographer during the last decade across most of the fifty US states. Shot entirely from the interiors of rental cars, typically from the driver’s seat, Friedlander makes use of side and rearview mirrors, windscreens, and side windows as framing devices for a total of 192 images.
Lee Friedlander, from the America by Car series, 1995-2009, California, 2008, Gelatin silver print, Collection of the artist; courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco 2011.
Elements from car interiors such as steering wheels and dashboards, as well as leather or wood panel trim, provide an index of their own; these differing qualities of finish and contemporaneity often appear strikingly at odds with the terrains in which they are located.
Lee Friedlander, from the America by Car series, 1995-2009, Arizona, 2007, Gelatin silver print, Collection of the artist; courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco 2011.
Presented in the square-crop format that characterizes Friedlander’s more recent work, these images complicate and invigorate the most bereft of rural scenes. His desire to collapse and flatten out the three-dimensional world parallels the means of cubist painting and recalls the collaging techniques of pop art.
Lee Friedlander, from the America by Car series, 1995-2009, Alaska, 2007, Gelatin silver print, Collection of the artist; courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco 2011.
“Lee Friedlander: America By Car” was shown in its entirety in New York at The Whitney Museum of American Art, September-November 2010 and was organized by Elisabeth Sussman, the Whitney’s Curator of Photography.
In a career spanning over fifty years, Friedlander is renowned for his recordings of everyday phenomena in works that he describes as ‘American social landscapes’. First coming to prominence after exhibiting alongside fellow photographers Garry Winogrand and Diane Arbus in John Szarkowski’s New Documents exhibition at MoMA, New York in 1967, Friedlander has been instrumental in the medium of photography’s acceptance as a significant 20th century art form.
Lee Friedlander was born in Aberdeen, Washington in 1934 and was introduced to photography at the age of fourteen. After shooting album cover portraits of Jazz musicians in New York and New Orleans, he began freelance commercial work in the late 1950’s. Among his numerous awards are a MacArthur Foundation Award, grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and three Guggenheim Fellowships. Friedlander has published over twenty books beginning with the groundbreaking Self Portraits in 1970, and including American Musicians (1976), Lee Friedlander At Work (2002), and Sticks and Stones: Architectural America (2004). Friedlander was the subject of a major traveling exhibition organized by MoMA in 2005, as well as being the 25th Hasselblad Award Winner the same year.
He lives and works in New York.
Lee Friedlander: America By Car, by Lee Friedlander, Limited Edition Hardcover, 2010, 2.1 x 18.4 x 17.8 in.
Enduring icons of American culture, the car and the highway remain vital as auguries of adventure and discovery, and a means by which to take in the country’s vast scale. Lee Friedlander is the first photographer to make the car an actual “form” for making photographs. Driving across most of the country’s 50 states in an ordinary rental car, Friedlander applied the brilliantly simple conceit of deploying the sideview mirror, rearview mirror, the windshield and the side windows as a picture frame within which to record the country’s eccentricities and obsessions at the turn of the century. This method allows for fascinating effects in foreshortening, and wonderfully telling juxtapositions in which steering wheels, dashboards and leatherette bump up against roadside bars, motels, churches, monuments, suspension bridges, landscapes and often Friedlander’s own image, via sideview mirror shots.
Presented in the square crop format that has dominated his look in recent series, and taken over the past decade, the nearly 200 images in America by Car are easily among Friedlander’s finest, full of virtuoso touch and clarity, while also revisiting themes from older bodies of work. This edition of America by Car is limited to 1000 copies and is signed by Friedlander. Never has America been photographed so penetratingly and ingeniously as in Friedlander’s latest body of work. Easily one of the best photography books of the decade.