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Asheville Arts Museum Presents Presents The Olmsted Project : Photographs by Lee Friedlander

The Asheville Arts Museum is to presents Present The Olmsted Project: Photographs by Lee Friedlander, open Friday, December 10, 2010 – Sunday, April 24, 2011.

Lee Friedlander (1934- ) is one of this country’s preeminent photographers. Among his projects, Friedlander photographed the work of Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of the Niagara Reservation (North America’s oldest state park), Washington Park, the U.S. Capitol Building landscape, parkway systems in Buffalo and Louisville, New York City’s Central Park and the grounds of Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.

Lee Friedlander, Biltmore, 1994, gelatin silver print, 11 x 14 inches. 2008 Collectors’ Circle Purchase. Asheville Art Museum Collection. 2008.36.02.91.

Rambling with his camera through the parks’ open meadows and densely wooded areas, Friedlander explores Olmsted’s landscapes — the meticulous stonework, the balance of sun and shade, the mature trees and the saplings. Friedlander creates an appreciation for Olmsted’s parks as invented worlds, not sublime landscapes, designed to delight the eye and offer, as Olmsted wrote, “healthful recreation” for the public. By providing worthy testimony to our era’s renewed interest in preserving the finest landscape architecture of the 19th century, Friedlander’s black-and-white photographs celebrate the essential pleasures of seeing and being in Olmsted’s living works of art.

Friedlander studied photography at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. In 1956 he moved to New York City where he photographed jazz musicians for record covers. His early work was influenced by Eugene Atget, Robert Frank and Walker Evans. In 1960 the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded Friedlander a grant to focus on his art and made subsequent grants in 1962 and 1977.

Working primarily with Leica 35mm cameras and black-and-white film, Friedlander’s style focused on the “social landscape.” His art used detached images of urban life, store-front reflections, structures framed by fences, posters and signs all combining to capture the look of modern life.

This exhibition was organized and curated by the Asheville Art Museum. This exhibition is sponsored by The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.

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