Lee Friedlander Photographs Frederick Law Olmsted Landscapes

By LEE FRIEDLANDER

What artist so noble, wrote the great landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted in what could surely serve as his own epitaph, “as he, who, with far-reaching conception of beauty and designing-power, sketches the outlines, writes the colors, and directs the shadows, of a picture so great that Nature shall be employed upon it for generations, before the work he has arranged for her shall realize his attentions.” Olmsted’s majestic orchestration of “distant effects” — in New York City’s Central, Riverside, and Prospect Parks, in Jackson Park in Chicago and Boston’s Arnold Arboretum, in Oakland’s Mountain View Cemetery and at the Biltmore Estate, at Yale and Stanford Universities — so artfully shaped a natural music from trees, landforms, and time that his noble creations hardly seem man-made. This sumptuously printed book, published to coincide with a recent Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition, compiles 89 photographs made by Lee Friedlander in Olmsted’s public parks and private estates. The rich tritone pictures — many taken in winter, when the limbs of trees provide a lacework lens through which to view the landscape — illustrate Friedlander’s distinctive style at the same time as they document, in his own words, “one photographer’s pleasurable and wandering glances at places that bear the great vision of Mr. Olmsted.” -