Sunday, January 21, 2007

Three books by Lee Friedlander

If there is only one photographic genius of the second half of the Twentieth Century it would have to be Lee Friedlander. His way of seeing is unique. His output is prolific, though it never stays stuck on the same path - and he is always exploring new subjects and new ways of looking at them. He appears to have a deep commitment to his projects, which are often pursued over several years. And while I am really drawn into his urban and street photographs, I'm also especially fond of what you might very loosely call his "landscape" work.

Currently there at least three books by Friedlander out that explore the natural rather than the man made world - Stems, Apples and Olives, and Cherry Blossom Time in Japan all of them fascinating books for anyone who also tries to photograph trees and landscapes.

From the publishers blurb on Stems: "In 1994, suffering from aching knees and painfully concerned about it, Lee Friedlander decided to prepare himself for a sedentary life. He began to pursue the still life as a possibility and maybe a way of photographic life—a dramatic shift for a man who has spent his life photographing on the street, …anywhere but sitting down. He tried a variety of subjects with a few good results, but nothing stood out until he began to look at the fresh flowers that his wife Maria placed around their home in cut–glass vases. But nevermind the flowers. True to Friedlander's style, he very quickly found himself most interested in the stems. During the months of February, May, June and December of 1994, he focused his lens on wild arrays of stems and the optical splendor produced by light refracting through the glass vases that contained them."

BTW, Friedlander is a master if the photo book. I think he see it very much as a primary way of presenting his work. In the past he has worked on small run almost hand made editions. The printing in his books is nearly always gorgeous (Factory Valleys is one of the most incredibly printed photo books I've ever seen - I think Friedlander said the prints in the book look better than the originals). These three books are no exception, the printing and presentation is exceptional - and at times somewhat unique. Photoeye has a book tease available for each one - click on the covers:

1 comment:

Stan B. said...

For what it's worth, I've always viewed Friedlander in extremes. While his street photography is a source of marvel and inspiration, his nature stuff makes me claustrophobic to the max, and his nudes... I count myself fortunate not seeing them at a younger, more impressionable age. That said, Sticks and Stones was one of the ultimate swan songs to any artistic career.