Lee Friedlander is celebrated for his ability to weave disparate elements from ordinary life into uncanny images of great formal complexity and visual wit. And few things have attracted his attention—or been more unpredictable in their effect—than the humble chain link fence.
Erected to delineate space, form protective barriers and bring order to chaos, the fences in Friedlander’s pictures catch filaments of light, throw disconcerting shadows and visually interrupt scenes without fully occluding them. Sometimes the steel mesh seems as delicate as lace; at others it appears as tough as snakeskin. In this book’s 97 pictures, drawn from over four decades of work, it recurs as versatile, utilitarian and ubiquitous—not unlike the photographer himself.
Lee Friedlander was born in 1934 in Aberdeen, Washington. In 1948 he began to photograph seriously and by the 1960s had become widely recognized for his all-encompassing portrayals of the American social landscape—a term he coined. Friedlander’s influential work has been the subject of many seminal exhibitions, including New Documents and Mirrors and Windows, both organized by John Szarkowski at The Museum of Modern Art, and more than 50 books, including Self Portrait (1970), The American Monument (1976), Factory Valleys (1982), Sticks and Stones (2004) and America By Car (2010).