Born in 1934 in Aberdeen (United States), Lee Friedlander takes up an interest in photography in the 1950s. Following in the wake of Robert Frank and Walker Evans, the American urban social landscape becomes his primary focus.
For the first time, the Eric Dupont Galerie exhibits the work of Lee Friedlander through a series of thirty emblematic works. Excluding his retrospective at the Jeu de Paume in collaboration with the MoMa, the artist has not shown in Paris in over 22 years. This exhibition offers a range of photographs dating from the 1960s until now, retracing the various themes explored throughout his career. The various subjects – nature, urban landscapes, nudes and self portraits – are also an opportunity to dive into Friedlander’s paradoxical univers. Characterized by a mixture of influences, his universe refers not only to the Minimal Art movement but also to Pop art. In addition, the originality of Lee Friedlander’s work resides in his play of techniques. Thus, the effects produced by the play of shapes and figures – the reflection, the glare, the transparency and even the cast shadow and the symmetry – are substantial to the artist’s work.
In the first room, the series of nudes refers to the 1979-1990 period of Friedlander’s career. These photographs contrast with his urban images series such as America by Car. Here, the artist is interested in the diversity that the body has to offer, particularly feminine ; diversity offered not as an erotic object but as a plastic material. As a result, the heat of the bodies disappears allowing for the coldness of the material to take prominence. The nonexistant face and the modeled body hint at sculpture. The intensity of the flesh gives way to the contours of the body, recalling the candor of a sculpted marble volume. Under the glass roof, a series of photographs dedicated to nature are exhibited across from a series of self portraits. First, the photographer presents a bountiful nature, where the usage of shadow and reflection gives the impression of a living nature. The viewer is immersed in the plant kingdom of Lee Friedlander. As for the self portraits, they present a different approach to his work. Thanks to the use of reflection and the technique of drop shadow, he puts himself in the context of each of the subjects and landscapes that he photographs. These techniques, fostering a distancing effect, empty the self portraits of their subjectivity and give way to neutrality. The form is favored over the emotion.
The photographs exhibited in the back room are dedicated, in large part, to American landscapes. In order to capture the city, Friedlander destructures the image in order to center it around geometry and articulate it according to a reflex mirror. This is how he reorganizes the photographed landscape.