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Lee Friedlander: American Monuments

The Center for Creative Photography’s latest exhibition examines national identity as seen by a keen observer. Lee Friedlander: American Monuments opens in the Center’s main gallery Saturday, May 17, through August 3, 2008. Two gallery walks are planned in June, the first titled “An Architect’s Perspective,” given by Distinguished Professor of Architecture at the University of Arizona, Corky Poster. Britt Salvesen, Director and Chief Curator at the Center, will lead the second talk, titled “The Curator’s Point of View.”

The theme of the “American monument” pervades Lee Friedlander’s decades-long investigation of the social landscape—a photographic genre he formulated in the late 1960s and subsequently refined to a height of finesse. Taking frequent cross-country car trips with his family, Friedlander observed monuments of various sorts cropping up in photographs he took along the way. He began to pursue the theme in earnest, and soon had enough pictures to compile into a book. The American Monument was published in three different editions by Eakins Press in 1976.

Towering over or glimpsed alongside cars, tourists, power lines, stoplights, and other signs of contemporary life, the monuments point toward the collective sense of history that motivated their construction. Absorbed in or at odds with their surroundings, they also suggest the accommodation of the past within the present. Selective comparisons, by artists such as Eugène Atget, Walker Evans, and Garry Winogrand, suggest points of departure for Friedlander’s unique exploration of a rich and inexhaustible theme.


Gallery Walks
Thursday, June 5, 5:30 p.m.
An Architect’s Perspective

Corky Poster, Distinguished Professor of Architecture, University of Arizona

Sunday, June 29, 1 p.m.
The Curator’s Point of View

Britt Salvesen, Director and Chief Curator, Center for Creative Photography

Release date: 
Wednesday, May 14, 2008