Lee Friedlander provided an early study of our national fascination with statuary.
Lee Friedlander’s “The American Monument” was first published in 1976. That’s “monument” singular, though one of the many singular things about Friedlander is that he’s nothing if not a pluralist. Whitman-like, he is great, contains multitudes. In an essay appended to the sumptuous new edition of this landmark work, Peter Galassi (who curated the 2005 Friedlander retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art) deems it “pointless” to try to count precisely how many books the photographer has published since 1976 before settling on roughly one a year. The retrospective was huge, and, inevitably, the accompanying catalog was almost too hefty to lug home comfortably. It was sort of monumental, though monuments tend to be erected to the dead.