Lee Friedlander was born in 1934 and graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, in 1956. That year he moved to New York City where he began photographing jazz musicians for Atlantic Records. Although he has always been based in New York, Lee Friedlander has spent time photographing Louisiana, and New Orleans in particular, continually since his first visit in 1957. Through his portraits of famous jazz musicians made into album covers for Atlantic he helped promote jazz internationally, while his portraits of lesser-known artists in their homes have preserved a local history of the genre. An enthusiast of the city, Lee Friedlander’s photographs of second-line parades, New Orleans’ street culture, and downtown commerce constitute visual puzzles that lead us to view our surroundings with freshness and a new curiosity.
In addition to portraits of musicians and other New Orleanians, the exhibition will include some of Friedlander’s earliest street photographs, illustrating how the built environment of New Orleans influenced the development of Friedlander’s sense of playfulness and unique vision. The exhibition will include examples from what have become many of his most influential series, including American Monuments and self-portraits featuring the creative use of shadows and reflective surfaces. Additionally, Lee Friedlander in Louisiana will include new prints of New Orleans streetscapes, some of which have never been exhibited before. As an artist whose images hover on the border of art and document, Lee Friedlander has been uniquely positioned to preserve the social and visual phenomena of New Orleans, and continues to create a varied body of work that is as humanistic as it is artful.
Lee Friedlander has been awarded three Guggenheim Fellowships, a MacArthur Fellowship, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Throughout his career he has published over twenty books and has been the subject of major exhibitions at MoMA, The Whitney Museum of American Art, and at the Rencontre d’Arles Festival. Lee Friedlander in Louisiana will be accompanied by a presentation of Friedlander’s color photographs, under the title of American Musicians, in NOMA’s Great Hall.
Lee Friedlander in Louisiana is organized by the New Orleans Museum of Art and is presented by the Charles W. and Elizabeth D Goodyear Foundation and Stephen and Kitty Sherrill. Additional support provided by George and Milly Denegre, Basin St. Station, Andrew and Robyn Schwarz, and the A. Charlotte Mann and Joshua Mann Pailet Endowment.