Book Review: Lee Friedlander: The New Cars 1964

A little and that's it

A remarkably underwhelming photo book. Not because of the photos: they are stunning as one would expect from Friedlander. Not because of the production: beautifully designed by Katy Homans; perfect three hundred screen printing by Meridian from Thomas Palmer prints. Underwhelming because there is so little here: just thirty-three photos and little else.

Harper's Bazaar asked the twenty-nine year old Friedlander to capture the excitement of Detroit's new '64 models. Back in those days the three manufacturers really pushed the boat out with extensive media coverage. I remember Look Magazine had an annual feature with several pages of photos presenting the new cars in the best light (see my look inside the book). Friedlander ignored all this hype and took his usual wonderful playful shots full of different layers of visual interest, reflections in windows or just creating unusual situations like putting one of the cars in an empty drive-in (because it was during the day). Predictably the magazine didn't use any of the photos, though he got paid anyway.

I really would have expected more than just the photos and the short intro from Jeffrey Fraenkel. Friedlander found the images in his darkroom storage. Were there no contact prints that would provide some additional interest if they were included in the book, did he have any recollections of the assignment and what were his original thoughts on the brief from Bazaar art editors? The book is, editorially, completely unimaginative.

Because there is so little here and it certainly doesn't have the punch of Friedlander's amazing 'America by car' I think it's only worth considering if you are regular LF fan (like me).

Lee Friedlander: The New Cars 1964 is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP | CN) and Book Depository

Lee Friedlander: The New Cars 1964
Mercury ad in the Look magazine new car issue.

Lee Friedlander: The New Cars 1964

Lee Friedlander: The New Cars 1964
A spread from Jeffrey Fraenkel's three page intro.

Lee Friedlander: The New Cars 1964

Lee Friedlander: The New Cars 1964

Lee Friedlander: The New Cars 1964

Lee Friedlander: The New Cars 1964

Lee Friedlander: The New Cars 1964

Lee Friedlander: The New Cars 1964

Lee Friedlander: The New Cars 1964

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