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Lee Friedlander & Pierre Bonnard: Photographs & Drawings

September 10–October 24, 2015

32 East 57th Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY


Installation Views

Selected Works

New York, August 10, 2015 – Pace/MacGill Gallery is pleased to present Lee Friedlander & Pierre Bonnard: Photographs & Drawings, on view from September 10 through October 24, 2015. Featuring gelatin silver prints by legendary American photographer Lee Friedlander in dialogue with drawings by the French Post-Impressionist painter Pierre Bonnard, the exhibition explores the aesthetic affinities that unite these artists’ depictions of the natural world across time and media. Steidl will publish a fully-illustrated catalogue with an essay by Peter Galassi, former Chief Curator of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, to accompany the exhibition. The public is invited to attend an opening reception on Saturday, September 26 from 2 to 4 PM.

The unexpectedly apt association between Lee Friedlander (b. 1934) and Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) was first noted in 1985 by the painter R.B. Kitaj, who observed their mutual disposition for the "complex tableau." Although working in different media and different decades, both artists display a penchant for pictorial continuity that yields seemingly intricate, yet democratically coherent compositions. The seamless quality of their imagery is deeply rooted in perceptual experience, and is perhaps most evident in their representations of landscape.

A prolific chronicler of the American social landscape, Friedlander's interest in photographing the natural world (particularly that of the Western United States) emerged around 1990, concurrent with his acquisition of a Hasselblad Superwide camera that offered the potential for a wide view and greater detail. His resulting square-format landscapes, presented here as exquisitely crafted 20 x 24 inch prints, are elegantly composed patterns of branches and bramble, mountains and trees, shadow and light. As Bonnard often painted from memory, he created small drawings on-site that would serve as reference for paintings upon returning to his studio. His sketches of the early 20th-century French landscape, comprised of rapidly executed pencil markings, record outdoor scenes with an immediacy not dissimilar to Friedlander's pictures.

When viewed together, Friedlander's photographs and Bonnard's drawings illustrate the strong perceptual bond that connects two seemingly disparate artists seeking to translate, in their respective mediums, the visual experience of the world. Peter Galassi observes:


A gaping chasm separates Bonnard and Friedlander ... But our two artists share something vital. Like anyone who picks up a camera, Friedlander inherited a vast tradition equating the picture with a window on the world. That's the only kind of picture that a camera can make. Bonnard was a grateful inheritor of the same tradition. For him as for Friedlander, the picture embodies a perception – an experience of looking. What the artist was looking at is no longer present (if ever it was), so the vitality of the experience – its allure, its power, its surprise – depends entirely on the vitality of the picture.


This work was originally shown at Galerie Thomas Zander in Cologne, Germany.

For more information about Lee Friedlander & Pierre Bonnard: Photographs & Drawings or press requests, please contact Margaret Kelly at 212.759.7999 or For general inquiries, please email

One of the world's leading photography galleries, Pace/MacGill has been dedicated to advancing fine art photography for 30 years. Known for discovering artists, representing masters, and placing important collections and archives into major public institutions, Pace/MacGill has presented some 200 exhibitions and published numerous catalogues on modern and contemporary photography. Founded in 1983 by Peter MacGill, in collaboration with Arne Glimcher of Pace Gallery and Richard Solomon of Pace Editions, Pace/MacGill is located at 32 East 57th Street in New York City.

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