The Shadow List: Number 8
Cindy Sherman be danged, the best book of self-portraits is Lee Friedlander's. Although not much talked about any more—old guys can't be edgy—I have to admit that I get more from Friedlander than from any other photographer (although even people who dig him completely still hate some of his pictures). I've made the case in the past for Friedlander being the most significant photographer of the second half of the 20th century, and people think I'm being didactic and provocative (certainly an understandable suspicion!). Not so—I mean it completely sincerely. If I were to rank photographers based on the number of the world's most interesting pictures they've made, Friedlander would be so far out front that the only competition would be for far-distant second place. The only thing he can't find ironic is jazz. I mean, this is a guy who went to Canyon de Chelly and (probably wandering amongst all the VC photographers searching for the tripod-holes of O'Sullivan et al.) made a picture of his own gawky shadow with pubic hair! Jeez.
(A slight addendum: if you'd like to appreciate what makes this picture special, try (really, I'm not being combative, I mean just go try) making a self-portrait of yourself at the wheel of your own vehicle. Not as easy as it looks, is it?)
I've been looking at this picture for twenty years, and like many of my favorite Friedlanders I could look at it for the rest of my life. In fact, I'm sure I will.
Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON