The photograph by Lee Friedlander. A known world converted to extraordinary

[leer en español]

His photographs sound as if improvised, like freedom, frenetic rhythms, piano and trumpet vibration… jazz. To the bustle of a big city awakening between cars and pedestrians, between shop windows and skyscrapers. To a dry and dusty rhythm in the breathtaking landscapes of the Arizona desert. Maybe also to loneliness of a motel bedroom lived only through the sound and image of a playing television. 

Because through the objective of his camara, who is considered one of the most important photographers of the 20th Century, Lee Friedlander (Aberdeen, Washington, 1934), presents until January 10th in the Fundación Mapfre an exhibition which covers his trajectory along 70 years, like if it was a visual archive seen from his special and curious view. Unusual iconographic stories that contribute to interpret the culture of his country, The United States. To embody the scenery of the roads, the path that meanders between them, sharing with those who observe his vision of the world, his critical eye and his visual metaphors dyed of apparent mundanity that offer the viewer a different lecture of things. Mundane scenes that seem to be at sight, and with his peculiar filter become extraordinary and foreign to all suspicious that they lived here: next to us. 

Little screens: Will loneliness hurt less?

His first personal work was Little Screens, published in Harper´s Bazaar in 1963 with a prologue from another essential figure in  photography, Walker Evans. The main character of this series of photographs is a television, present in the 60’s in all American homes. With this collection of photographs, Friedlander anticipates the problems that arise in a world of omnipresent “little screens”. Put a screen in your house, take it with you travelling and will “loneliness hurt less…?”

In the images, an unoccupied bedroom is filled with the pre-eminent presence of a television screen.  The image reflects someone who is really not there and is utilized to transmit a huge sensation of emptiness.  

Self-portraits in the landscape of his photography

In addition to cultivating the portrait of big jazz figures in those unforgettable covers of their albums as well as nudeness (young Madonna at the end of 70s), another of the characteristics of Friedlander´s work are his self-portraits, where he seems to break even more with the classic rules of composition. Self-portraits in the landscapes of his photographs. His reflection on a window, a mirror, his shadow projected in precise and cared for frames. Flashes and fragments of his image that mix with the space where the photograph is taken. 

Also those themes chosen almost by chance, mundane scenes of a visual diary, the elapse of a day in the city, natural landscapes, family portrays described through his photographs like never before, in a form not subdued to traditional rules of what considered beautiful and harmonious but with a non-conventional view and personal language. A key style for the next generations that materialized in the exhibit “New Documents” in the MoMa (1967) and which he shared with Garry Winograd and Diane Arbus. A huge leap for the new documentary photography. 

“I am not a premeditated photographer”. `I see´ a photograph and I take it. If I had occasion I will be shooting at all hours. You do not have to go look for the photos. The material is generous. You go out and images search for you in every step”… And is precisely that singularity which captures the spectator of his work, the uncommonness of his point of view. A known world never seen before in this way.

Photography: Óscar Rivilla

Music: Electrophorus

Translation: Covadonga López-Fanjul

Art Direction: Óscar Rivilla and Carolina Verd

Fashion: La musaraña vintage shop