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Lee Friedlander: Stems
Distributed Art Publishers', New York, 2003. 96 pp., 66 tritone drytap illustrations, 10
Of all the books to cross my desk this season, Stems, along with Aaron Siskind 100, is the most elegantly designed, beautifully produced of them all. During a period of a few years in the mid-90s, Lee Friedlander turned to the still life genre as a direct response to the vicissitudes of his life. Aching knees and eventual replacement of both knees, had forced him to consider a less mobile lifestyle and the vases of flowers his wife Maria placed around the house during this time caught his eye. His camera soon followed. "Not only would the stems fall into wild array, the vases produced with them a kind of optical splendor. They added a perverse note to the optical qualities of the fine camera lenses. Helter-skelter light refractions and optical exaggerations, as well as compound reflections, happened naturally. A kind of inflammatory effect."-Lee Friedlander. What designer Katy Homans has done with these vibrant still lifes, however, is truly wonderful. Printed on a heavy mat paper using a special drytrap process, these images are between boards wrapped in a stem-like green cloth. The endpages-a dusty rose color-pleasantly surprise one upon opening the book in much the way the inner petals of a flower reveal themselves only to the attentive. A truly gorgeous book.
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