Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Lee Friedlander's Used Cars

It's Lee Friedlander season in San Francisco with a major retrospective at SFMOMA and the America by Car exhibit at The Fraenkel Gallery. The latter concentrates on landscapes which prominently incorporate some section of car interior (usually the door). Some of these were published in his phenomenal Sticks and Stones- but a whole show of these, particularly from a photographer whose major weakness may be his utter reluctance to edit in a disciplined manner? Well... the guy pulls it off, and most admirably at that! With his trusty Hasselblad SWC (talk about camera envy) and fill flash, Friedlander incorporates various car door interiors into organic compositions that both frame and accentuate the outdoor landscapes in his viewfinder. And he does it so well that you anxiously anticipate what unlikely conglomeration he'll pull together for the next composition! The prints proudly resonate with the beauty and clarity that is B&W, and they're handsomely displayed at the Fraenkel.

Also included in the Fraenkel exhibit are a host of Mr. Friedlander's earlier 35mm work from the sixties and seventies that he also shot from his car. Taken with a more moderate wide angle, these shots insert small bits and pieces of the car (eg- side view mirror, windshield panel, etc) in the foreground that compete with, and sometimes divide and distort the larger details of the exterior landscape. They are more subtle (and smaller) than the Blad prints, like haiku to the medium format paragraphs.

That said, it's amazing how someone Friedlander's age can so keenly identify and utilize so much of the visual noise and stimulus that continues to metastasize throughout today's environment. And no doubt it's the very fact that he has been doing it for so long that enables him to so acutely identify and portray those very changes as they occur and manifest all around us. It also gives hope that one can continue to see, react and create in an original manner well into our latter years.

On to the retrospective...


Mike Wood said...

that would be a killer show to see. I wish i could get there and check it out. great post.

billyfoster said...
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