Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions

The Lee Friedlander photography exhibit opened last weekend at the SF MoMA. Since I was a few hours south, I missed the Friday night opening, so a lucky window of a few minutes this afternoon and gorgeous spring sunshine meant a walk downtown to catch the exhibit.

It doesn't disappoint. Friedlander is one of the most well-known American photographers of the last fifty years. His subject matter spans the wide realm that is the "American social landscape" - everything from New York fashion week to national parks (you get a lot of Yosemite, Death Valley, etc.) to Route 66 to self-portraits to nudes. The national park work definitely calls to mind a few Ansel Adams pieces we'd all surely recognize.

I found most intriguing Friedlander's interplay with his own shadow and the subjects he photographs. He places himself as voyeur in the photo itself while still observing the action going on in front of the camera, which results in a strangely unsettling and vaguely exciting mix of self-awareness, a postmodern commentary on the nature of reality. And it's all done with a somewhat unbalanced, whimsical sensuousness. There's a silence and a smirk to his work that strikes me as subversive and potentially full of a lot of social commentary on suburbia and nature, bodies and consumerism and politics, just to begin.

I like.

(That's Nashville above, 1963, and Route 9W, New York, 1969/1990s to the right.)


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