Lee FriedlanderAmerican (Aberdeen, Washington, 1934)
New York City
Since the 1960s Friedlander has been a keen observer of the American social and cultural landscape. His photographs draw on a rich heritage that includes the socially engaged documentary work of the 1930s and the more spontaneous street photography of the postwar era.
Though they may appear casual, Friedlander's photographs are complex constructions that exploit spatial ambiguities to create witty juxtapositions and pictures within pictures. Like Eugène Atget, whose work he admired, Friedlander photographed reflections in store windows, often capturing conjunctions of inside and outside. He deliberately enacted many of the common mistakes of amateur photographers, aligning his subjects with poles, for instance, or "accidentally" recording his shadow in a series of self-portraits.
Coolly neutral and slyly humorous, Friedlander's pictures refrain from making overt social statements. Instead, they remain detached and ambiguous, questioning the idea of the photograph as an inherently truthful document.