Exhibition Dates: January 22 – May 11, 2008
Exhibition Location: The Howard Gilman Gallery
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the design for Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted’s 843-acre New York City masterpiece, The Metropolitan Museum of Art will present Lee Friedlander: A Ramble in Olmsted Parks. On view from January 22 to May 11, 2008, the exhibition will feature 36 photographs, most never before on public display. Friedlander describes these striking photographs, culled from a 20-year exploration of public parks and private estates designed by North America’s premier landscape architect, as “one photographer’s pleasurable and wandering glances at places that bear the great vision of Mr. Olmsted.”
Renowned for his complex, idiosyncratic picture-making, Lee Friedlander began photographing parks designed by Olmsted for a 1988 commission from the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal. The artist’s interest in landscape, however, began much earlier, and he continued to photograph Olmsted parks long after he completed the commission. In addition to numerous photographs of Central Park, Friedlander’s series encompasses many other famous and beloved landscapes by Olmsted, including: Brooklyn’s Prospect Park; Manhattan’s Morningside Park; World’s End in Hingham, Massachusetts; and Cherokee Park in Louisville, Kentucky.
Rambling with his camera through the parks’ open meadows and dense understory, Friedlander finds pure pleasure in Olmsted’s landscapes – in the meticulous stonework, in the careful balance of sun and shade, and in the mature, weather-beaten trees and their youthful issue. With this series, the artist has also explored a variety of camera formats that provide surprising perspectives on each park’s intricate balance of features, especially the overlapping layers of trees, leaves, grasses, architecture. The photographs offer fresh appreciation for Olmsted parks as invented worlds designed to delight the eye and offer, as Olmsted wrote, “healthful recreation” for the public. By providing worthy testimony to our era’s renewed interest in preserving the finest landscape architecture of the nineteenth century, Friedlander’s black-and-white photographs celebrate the essential pleasures of seeing and being in these living works of art.
Born in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1934, Lee Friedlander had his first solo show in 1963 at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York; four years later he exhibited with Diane Arbus and Garry Winogrand in the landmark New Documents exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. In his distinguished career, he has received awards from the MacArthur Foundation and the Hasselblad Foundation and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. His photographs have been the subject of two dozen books, including Self Portrait, The American Monument, Letters from the People, The Desert Seen, Sticks & Stones: Architectural America, and Friedlander, the catalogue for his 2005 MoMA retrospective.
Lee Friedlander: A Ramble in Olmsted Parks is organized by Jeff L. Rosenheim, Curator in the Department of Photographs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The exhibition will be accompanied by the publication Lee Friedlander Photographs: Frederick Law Olmstead Landscapes, featuring 89 images and an introduction by the artist. The book will be released in January 2008 by D.A.P. ($85). The exhibition will also coincide with the publication of the Museum’s Winter 2008 Bulletin, featuring an essay on the history of the creation of Central Park by Morrison H. Heckscher, Lawrence A. Fleischman Chairman of the Metropolitan Museum’s American Wing.
Education programs include: Rambling in Central Park, a museum class for high school students on May 3 at 11 a.m.; and gallery talks on January 29, February 5, March 12, April 2, and April 18 at 10 a.m. The exhibition will also be featured on the Museum’s Web site at www.metmuseum.org.