145
145

COLLECTION OF C. DAVID & MARY ROBINSON

Lee Friedlander
THE LITTLE SCREENS
Estimate
200,000300,000
LOT SOLD. 850,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
145

COLLECTION OF C. DAVID & MARY ROBINSON

Lee Friedlander
THE LITTLE SCREENS
Estimate
200,000300,000
LOT SOLD. 850,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Photographs

|
New York

Lee Friedlander
B. 1934
THE LITTLE SCREENS
a suite of 38 photographs, each signed, titled, dated, and numbered in pencil and with the photographer's '52 South Mountain Rd., New City, New York 10956' studio, copyright, and reproduction rights stamp on the reverse, 1961-70, printed later (38)
Each approximately 8 1/2  by 12 3/4  in. (21.6 by 32.6 cm.) or the reverse
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, 2001

Exhibited

San Francisco, Fraenkel Gallery, The Little Screens, September - October 2001

Literature

Lee Friedlander: The Little Screens (Fraenkel Gallery, 2001), all plates (these prints)

'The Little Screens: A Photographic Essay by Lee Friedlander with a Comment by Walker Evans,' Harper's Bazaar, February, 1963, pp. 126-129

Peter Galassi, Friedlander (The Museum of Modern Art, 2005), fig. 24 and pls. 75, 79, 80, 81, 82, 85, 88, 90, 91, 93, and 152

Rod Slemmons, Like a One-Eyed Cat: Photographs by Lee Friedlander, 1956-1987 (Seattle Art Museum, 1989), pl. 29

David Campany, Walker Evans: The Magazine Work (Göttingen, 2014), pp. 200-01

John Szarkowski, The Photographer's Eye (The Museum of Modern Art, 1966), p. 14

Peter Galassi, Walker Evans & Company (The Museum of Modern Art, 2000), pls. 265 and 319

Keith Davis, An American Century of Photography, from Dry-Plate to Digital, 2nd ed. (Hallmark, 1999), pl. 379

Americans: Masterpieces of American Photography, 1940-2006 (Kunsthalle Wien, 2006), pp. 45, 47, and 52

Catalogue Note

Witty, ironic, and perceptive, Lee Friedlander’s Little Screens photographs capture the growing ubiquity of television in post-war America and offer deadpan comic commentary on the vacuity of popular culture.  Taken between 1961 and 1970, in locales ranging from Galax, Virginia, to Washington State, each photograph includes within its frame a television set illuminated with flickering moments of entertainment, advertising, or politics.  Like the best of Friedlander’s photographs, the Little Screens images initially appear off-hand and casual.  Examined more closely—and seen together as a series—they reveal a depth of sophistication. As Hilton Kramer wrote in 1972, Friedlander ‘has wrested from the accidents of experience some remarkable images—a kind of workaday surrealism that is ingenious in the incongruous forms it brings together, yet always faithful to a straight documentary surface.  The little group of pictures showing television screens functioning in bleak, uninhabited rooms is unforgettable’ (New York Times, 25 November, 1972, p. 23).

Images from Friedlander’s series were first published, along with text by his friend and mentor Walker Evans, in the February 1963 issue of Harper’s Bazaar in a feature entitled ‘The Little Screens: A Photographic Essay by Lee Friedlander with a Comment by Walker Evans.’  The images’ unlikely debut in Harper’s Bazaar was the direct result of art director Marvin Israel’s effort in the early 1960s to replace traditional magazine imagery with edgier work by Friedlander, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, and Andy Warhol, among others.  Friedlander and Israel also worked together at Atlantic Records, where Israel was an art director and Friedlander provided photographs of musicians for albums and liner notes. 

The importance of The Little Screens was acknowledged early on.  John Szarkowski included one in his encyclopedic 1964 exhibition The Photographer’s Eye at the Museum of Modern Art.  Szarkowski also included the work in the seminal 1967 New Documents exhibition.  After Bazaar’s publication of Little Screens, Friedlander received a letter requesting to purchase Philadelphia (1961) from the series.  Surprised that anyone would want to pay him $25 for a photograph, Friedlander met with the buyer: the artist Jim Dine.  The two became friends and would later collaborate on the 1969 Photographs & Etchings portfolio. 

The group of Little Screens images offered here is the largest and most complete to appear at auction.  These are the very prints Friedlander used in the creation of the 2001 book, Lee Friedlander: The Little Screens, published by Fraenkel Gallery.  All of the 34 images illustrated in the book are present here, as well as 4 additional images that do not appear in the book.  Like the complete set of Nicholas Nixon’s The Brown Sisters offered here as Lot 113, these photographs come from the pioneering photography collectors Mary Robinson and her late husband C. David Robinson. 

Photographs

|
New York