Photography | Lee Friedlander’s Little Screens

All images by Lee Friedlander from The Little Screens series
Estimate $200/300,000



Sotheby’s
New York City | USA
Photographs
Exhibition until 31 March 2015
Sale 1 April 2015



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Paul Strand’s unique and beguiling Rebecca platinum print will lead Sotheby’s New York’s April 1st Photographs sale. The auction also includes a complete up-to-date set of Nicholas Nixon’s extended portrait series The Brown Sisters – 40 photographs taken annually between 1975 and 2014 in 8 x 10 inch format. However, Lee Friedlander’s The Little Screens – a suite of 38 photographs selling as a single lot – steals the show.

In our post, Lee Friedlander: America By Car / The New Cars, about the 2011 exhibition at London’s Timothy Taylor Gallery, we observed that, ‘The compositional references suggest the montages of Richard Hamilton.’ The Little Screens is a good illustration of the artists’ singular approaches to the creation of images of similar situations with comparable subject matter, and the way in which their perspectives differed. Hamilton’s colourful collage, Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? (1956), in which the living space around the body-builder male figure and his pin-up, parasol-hatted partner, is choc-full with up-to‑the-minute furniture and contemporary household must-haves: the vacuum cleaner, tinned ham, a tape recorder, the tropical plant and of course the TV, with its black and white image. For The Little Screens series Friedlander reverses the emphases, depopulating each snatch and broader portion of otherwise banal, dimly lit American interior, making the bright, close-cropped image on the TV the star, and only sign of life. It’s interesting to note too, that, although all-colour prime-time television became available throughout the USA in 1966, Friedlander – who would, in the 1980s, choose to shoot a series on Japanese cherry blossom in monochrome – stuck resolutely to black and white photography for The Little Screens, which he created throughout the course of the 1960s.


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European Modernism is also well-represented in Sotheby’s Photographs in works by László Moholy-Nagy, Man Ray and Pierre Dubreuil. A print of Richard Avedon’s Marilyn Monroe will feature alongside Irving Penn’s Rock Groups. Among a long and varied list of lots, contemporary works by Robert Rauschenberg, Larry Sultan and Olafur Eliasson will also be sold. A selection of 38 images from The Little Screens – the largest group ever to come to auction and a far greater number than appear on Lee Friedlander’s gallerist, the Fraenkel Gallery’s website, which otherwise carries a substantial cross-section of the photographer’s work – are included in the sale and viewing exhibition.

All images from the Collection of C David & Mary Robinson. Courtesy Sotheby’s



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