The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) is proud to present a major exhibition of Lee Friedlander (American, born 1934), one of the most famous living American photographers. On view April 27 through August 12, 2018, Lee Friedlander in Louisiana explores the ways in which Louisiana, and New Orleans in particular, have had a profound impact on the career of this important artist, while also highlighting Friedlander’s significance as a documentarian of the local music community. Comprised of vintage prints and never before seen images, the photographs of jazz musicians, monuments, and street life demonstrate how Louisiana has been central to the development of one of the country’s most influential photographers.
“As an artist whose images straddle the border of art and document, Friedlander was uniquely positioned to preserve the social and visual phenomena of New Orleans, creating a varied body of work that is as humanistic as it is artistic,” said Susan Taylor, NOMA’s Montine McDaniel Freeman Director. “We are delighted to be the first institution to examine the scope and influence of Friedlander’s work in New Orleans on the fields of photography, music, and history.”
Lee Friedlander’s relationship with New Orleans began in 1957 when he first visited the city as an employee of Atlantic Records to produce portraits for album covers. From that point on, he would be a frequent visitor to the city, training his camera on second line parades, crowded streetcars, and the evolving architecture of downtown. In what is now known as his signature style, Friedlander welcomes reflections, shadows, and obstructions that transform the people and places of New Orleans into playful pictures that are both visual puzzles, and humanistic documents.
“While everyone is trying to get the perfect picture, Lee Friedlander’s approach seems to declare that photographs should be about how the world exists, not how we want it to be,” said Russell Lord, Freeman Family Curator of Photographs. “Lee Friedlander in Louisiana is, therefore, both a fitting tribute to a great American photographer, but also a tribute to this city’s rich visual and social character during its Tricentennial year.”
Lee Friedlander graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena in 1956. That same year, he moved to New York City where he began photographing jazz musicians for Atlantic Records. He has been awarded three Guggenheim Fellowships, a MacArthur Fellowship, grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and an Infinity Award for Lifetime Achievement from the International Center of Photography in New York. Friedlander 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, entitled Lee Friedlander: American Musicians, in NOMA’s Great Hall. On view March 2 through June 17, 2018, American Musicians includes some of Friedlander’s most dynamic color photographs, many of which were used for famous record album covers and promotional portraits. A Spotify playlist created by NOMA curators includes essential tracks by artists featured in Lee Friedlander: American Musicians, reflecting moments in time shared between the creation of sound and image.