Apples and Olives.  Photographs by Lee Friedlander.
Apples and Olives.  booktease preview.

Apples and Olives.

Photographs by Lee Friedlander.
Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, 2005. 65 pp., 55 duotone illustrations, 9¾x10½".

Apples and Olives is an absolutely lovely photobook; sumptuously printed, elegantly designed (with the colorful endpages that Friedlander and designer Katy Homans are known for) and, above all, filled with singularly amazing images. But when it comes down to it, Lee Friedlander is a difficult photographer to talk about. As last year’s massive MoMA catalogue illustrates, he has traversed the photographic landscape rather thoroughly, moving from editorial work to street photography to any number of personal projects, almost all of which have culminated in a book. The images in Apples and Olives come as direct offspring of a vision that was first realized in The Desert Seen and then again in Self-Portrait (from 2000, not the groundbreaking 1970 monograph), but that was most ascendant in Sticks & Stones. Throughout his career, Friedlander has consistently used specific subject matter (like the urban landscape, or the desert, or apple and olive trees) to explore the flat picture plane. More specifically, in the four aforementioned books, it is a square, black-andwhite, photographic two-dimensionality that he is playfully yet sophisticatedly concerned with. Friedlander is a master of creating unity out of diverse shapes and tones in the two-dimensional picture plane. On this level, the subject matter is arbitrary and irrelevant. The work, however, is not. DARIUS HIMES

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