Magazine article Newsweek

The View Master; A Stunning New Retrospective Boasts Hundreds of Lee Friedlander's Images. Here's What Just One Can Tell Us

Magazine article Newsweek

The View Master; A Stunning New Retrospective Boasts Hundreds of Lee Friedlander's Images. Here's What Just One Can Tell Us

Article excerpt

Byline: Malcolm Jones

The world according to Lee Friedlander is an unmistakable place. The combination of intention, point of view and subject matter is so distinctive that you could pick one of his photographs out of a lineup every time, though the variety of his work still manages to stun. The Museum of Modern Art, where a retrospective exhibit of Friedlander's work opens on June 5, needed almost 500 images to adequately display his accomplishments. Over half a century, he has photographed nudes, landscapes, himself, street scenes, jazz musicians, factory and office workers, patriotic monuments, plant stems, cacti and graffiti. And that list gives only an inkling of his scope. The MoMA show makes it easy to believe that Friedlander, 70, has shot contemporary life, right down to the vacant lot on the corner, from every angle, in every weather. Anything is a candidate for his camera.

Consider the photograph above, made in Las Vegas in 2002. It's part of a series where a car interior is used to frame a picture within the picture, a favorite Friedlander tactic. It's fair to say that most of us would have gone out of our way not to take that picture. Or we would have gotten out of the car, thereby removing the very "obstruction" that makes the shot work. On the other hand, who hasn't, while idling at a stoplight, chuckled at the inset picture superimposed on the view by the sideview mirror? No one is better than Friedlander at finding art in the commonplace. And, as happens so often in one of his images, there is sly humor and slapstick. …

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