Lee Friedlander, born in 1934, began photographing the American social landscape in 1948. With an ability to organize a vast amount of visual material in dynamic compositions, Friedlander has made humorous and poignant images among the chaos of city life, dense natural landscape, and countless other subjects. Friedlander is also recognized for a group of self-portraits he began in the 1960s, reproduced in Self Portrait, an exploration that he turned to again in the late 1990s, and published in a monograph by Fraenkel Gallery in 2000.
In 2005, Friedlander was the recipient of the prestigious Hasselblad Award as well as the subject of a major traveling retrospective and catalogue organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 2010, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York exhibited the entirety of his body of work, America by Car. In 2017, Yale University Art Gallery exhibited and published some of his earliest work, 1957 photographs of participants of the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom in Washington, D.C, which travelled to National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, TN; Boston University Art Galleries, Boston, MA; Fisk University Galleries, Nashville, TN; Picker Art Gallery, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY; and Margaret Walker Center, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS. Also in 2017, the artist and Yale University Press started releasing an ambitious six-book suite collectively titled The Human Clay – a sweeping collection of street and environmental portraits culled and edited by Friedlander from his extensive archive, many not previously published. Other recent projects include Friedlander First Fifty, a compilation of his first 50 books published in 2019; an exhibition of over three hundred of the artist's photographs at Fundación MAPFRE, Madrid in 2022; and Framed by Joel Coen, an exhibition and related publication presented at both Luhring Augustine and Fraenkel Gallery in 2023.
Friedlander’s work is held by major collections including Art Institute of Chicago; George Eastman Museum, Rochester, NY; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; San Francisco Museum of Art; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among many others.