Lee Friedlander, ‘Untitled (Lincoln)’, 1963, Phillips

An Influential Vision: The Collection of Ruth Ansel

From the Catalogue:
In 1962 Andy Warhol was commissioned by Harper’s Bazaar to create a series of silkscreens on the newest and latest in American automobiles, prominently featuring the icon of 1960s Americana, the Cadillac. Warhol’s contribution to the magazine was received with wide acclaim, and just one year later, Lee Friedlander was commissioned by Ruth Ansel and Bea Feitler to do the same. "The tradition handed down by Marvin [Israel], was to outsmart the editor by commissioning unusual and unexpected talent," Ruth Ansel explained. "We were working in a time-honored tradition between innovative artists and art directors… commissioning new artists like Warhol and Friedlander, and letting them loose before they became recognized by the public, was how we intended to give these assignments distinction."

Given total freedom, Friedlander departed from the glaring commercial gaze that Warhol had so unabashedly embraced, and instead, photographed the cars the same way he photographed his shadow, camouflaged within the frame, making what should be the primary subject, only one part of the final composition. In lot 116 we see the Lincoln Continental through a reflection in a shop window, and similarly in lot 117, the Chevrolet Imperial sits outside, parked askew in the rain. "I just put the cars out in the world, instead of on a pedestal," Friedlander later explained.

While the photographs are quintessential Friedlander, they were never published. Concerned that they would be viewed as a slight by crucial advertisers and the car companies that would have been featured, Harper’s Bazaar Editor-in-chief Nancy White rejected Friedlander’s photographs. The prints, which ultimately went unseen by the public for decades, were recently revisited in the publication Lee Friedlander: The New Cars 1964 in 2011. Accordingly, early prints from this series are very rare.
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: Annotated 'Lincoln' in ink and credit stamp on the reverse of the mount.

Aperture, Lee Friedlander: The New Cars 1964, n.p.

Directly from the artist

About Lee Friedlander