Lee Friedlander: SELF-PORTRAIT: PHOTOGRAPHS BY LEE FRIEDLANDER. New York: Haywire Press, 1970. First edition. Oblong small quarto. np [88 pp]. Stiff photographically printed wrappers. Black-and-white reproductions printed by Meriden Gravure. A very good or better copy with light wear to wrappers and spine edges. Friedlander's first monograph.
8.5 x 9 softcover book where Friedlander writes in the introduction, "I might call myself an intruder." Interestingly, this idea is carried forth in Roth's "Book of 101 Books" where Vince Aletti states, "Friedlander does seem to be lurking or barging into his own pictures -- a hovering, disembodied Everyman, at once here and gone. Like the ephemeral figures in nineteenth-century spirit photos, he appears as a shadow, a reflection, a pair of shoes, a barely discernible shape.
"Memory, transience, identity, and the impossibility of capturing anything more than a fiction or a mask in photographic portraiture -- Friedlander put all these issues slyly into play with Self-Portrait," writes Vince Aletti in The Book of 101 Books, "along with a snapshot-style looseness and idiosyncrasy that sit well in this simple, straightforward design." [Roth, p. 198]
Lee Friedlander's surreal sensibility is on full display in this set of photographs, where he focuses on the role of his own physical presence in his images. He writes: 'At first, my presence in my photos was fascinating and disturbing. But as time passed and I was more a part of other ideas in my photos, I was able to add a giggle to those feelings.' Here readers can witness this progression as Friedlander appears in the form of his shadow, or reflected in windows and mirrors, and only occasionally fully visible through his own camera. In some photos he visibly struggles with the notion of self-portraiture, desultorily shooting himself in household mirrors and other reflective surfaces. Soon, though, he begins to toy with the pictures, almost teasingly inserting his shadow into them to amusing and provocative effect-elongated and trailing a group of women seen only from the knees down; cast and bent over a chair as if seated in it; mirroring the silhouette of someone walking down the street ahead of him; or falling on the desert ground, a large bush standing in for hair. These uncanny self-portraits evoke a surprisingly full landscape of the artist's life and mind.
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