Lee Friedlander

American (Aberdeen, Washington, 1934)


1969; printed 1978
photograph | gelatin silver print
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  • Self-Portrait

    Lee Friedlander, Self-Portrait, 1969; printed 1978; gelatin silver print, 7 9/16 in. x 11 5/16 in. (19.21 cm x 28.73 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Purchase; © Lee Friedlander

In 1970 Friedlander published Self-Portrait, a witty and irreverent book that pokes fun at overly serious art. Taken together, the photographs in the book suggest that Friedlander has no one definitive self — that his identity is, instead, an ever-changing thing. They do not aspire to reveal some inner truth about the artist, or to put him on a pedestal. Most of the photographs, in fact, do quite the opposite.

Few of the portraits are flattering; in this example, Friedlander photographs himself with a harsh flash. He often appears bored, staring blankly into the middle distance, or seems to be recovering from a bad hangover. Sometimes the only evidence of the artist is his reflection, his feet, or the slightly menacing shadow of his head. Many of his photographs look accidental, but all of them are deliberate and carefully composed.

7 9/16 in. x 11 5/16 in. (19.21 cm x 28.73 cm)
Acquired 1983
Collection SFMOMA
© Lee Friedlander


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