Lee Friedlander. Galax, Virginia. 1962

Lee Friedlander Galax, Virginia 1962

  • Not on view

The bare facts of the picture are bare indeed: an undecorated room, a plain blanket, a sturdy bed with rails like prison bars or like the slats of a crib. All that animates the room is the electronic image on the television screen. That image is human, nonetheless, and it serves as a companion of sorts for the occupant of the room.

Televisions became common in living rooms (and motel rooms) in the early 1950s, so it is fair to say that this picture confronts a significant aspect of the then contemporary American "social landscape," a term coined by Friedlander. But unlike the photographs that Life and other magazines had made familiar to millions, this picture declines to state a case—to judge or explain. Alertly engaged with the material of contemporary life, it fiercely resists the ready conclusions of journalism or sociology. In this respect, it is exemplary of the most adventurous American photography of the 1960s, whose leaders opened new artistic territory by transforming the pictorial vocabulary of photojournalism into a means of asserting and exploring their distinctly individual sensibilities.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art , MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 261.
Gelatin silver print
5 7/8 × 8 7/8" (14.9 × 22.5 cm)
Acquired through the generosity of Celeste Bartos
Object number
© 2021 Lee Friedlander

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