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Lee Friedlander, revisted

Jim A , Mar 09, 2005; 12:56 a.m.

Last year I was looking at Lee Friedlander photos and noticed that he made an image in Akron, Ohio where I'm currently living. I made a mental note to wait for winter and for fun go back and document the scene, now 25 years after he made his image.

Here is the link to Lee Friedlander's 1980 view of Akron, Ohio.

If I had come across this scene on my own I would not have been moved to make an image. For me, Friedlander has been a difficult photographer to appreciate, unlike Josef Koudelka or Danny Lyon or Winogrand, but over the years much of his work has grown on me.

What's your take on his image?

I'll leave you with this: The Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Here is the same scene in 2005


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John Painter , Mar 09, 2005; 01:04 a.m.

My favorite Friedlander collection is the "American Musicians" book. Check it out and you'll appreciate him a whole lot more.

All of the photogs you mentioned are going to take a good photo most every time they press the shutter. Doesn't mean it should be in a book though :)


John Sypal , Mar 09, 2005; 01:27 a.m.

"When Friedlander breaks the rules of "good" photography, his doing so amounts to an insistence on photography as photography. These rules are violated by a broad set of pictorial conventions. Take the comprssion of foreground and background fairly common in Friedlander's photos. It violates the tacit rule that a representational photo shoud suggest space as we perceive it in the world, with any deformations being easily decodable. Friedlander's deformations are rarely result from the optics of lenses, which we have learned to cope with. Rather, he arrays the pictorial elements so that they may connect as conceptual units, against our learned habit of decoding the flat image into rationalized space.

More importantly, spatial compression is a possibility peculiarly inherent in photography, where such junctures can happen accidentally. Friedlander characteristically locates the issue in the domain of control, which he equates with insisted-on consciousness. Once you accept that photography need not rest on the history of painting (where, before the heavy influx of photographic influence, at least, there had been no concept of chance imagery, only accident and or better or worse decisions about intentional juxtaposition), you can accept as the outcome of conscious and artistic control photos that have the look of utter accident."

From "Lee Friedlander's Guarded Strategies" by Martha Rosler, Artforum, April 1975

This is from an article on Friedlander that my photography teacher had collected for use in his history of photography course...

Eugene Scherba , Mar 09, 2005; 01:58 a.m.

one can only go so far when fixating on the conflict between modernist and pictorialist photography.

Eugene Scherba , Mar 09, 2005; 01:59 a.m.

it's been what, 100 years since we had known for the first time that photography is not painting? Time to move on.

Eugene Scherba , Mar 09, 2005; 02:00 a.m.

at least the painters had moved on.

John Painter , Mar 09, 2005; 02:17 a.m.

If you have to write a Doctoral Thesis explaining why a Photo 'works' than there is a problem.


John Painter , Mar 09, 2005; 02:18 a.m.

Oops....I left out my smiley face


Eugene Scherba , Mar 09, 2005; 02:46 a.m.

if you have to write a Doctoral Thesis explaining why a Photo 'works' than there is a problem.

with the thesis or with the photo?

Ian Everhov , Mar 09, 2005; 03:23 a.m.

I love Lee Friedlanders "Desert seen" incredibly good, first time i saw it i thought, well let's say i couldn't appreciate it. Over time it has grown a lot, a bit like vegemite i guess, kind of aquired taste. Very al dente photography.

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