In the Industrial North at the end of the 1970s, people were at work with hands and machinery to make things we all use. In the mid 80s, in Wisconsin, they built supercomputers; at the same time, near Boston, they typed on desktop computers. In New York City, in the early 90s, people stood on stock floors, trading. In 1995, in Omaha, they sat at computers, cold calling as telemarketers; and in Cleveland, in that same year, they used their human skills in traditional ways to once again craft products we all depend on.
Work, work, work – we spend the better part of our lives on the job, be it in a factory or an antiseptic office, or somewhere else in the vast assembly line in between. Tireless photographer Lee Friedlander, the maniacally inclusive but blessedly nonchalant cataloguer of Americana–her monuments, jazz musicians and urban landscapes–here presents 16 years of Americans at work.
A collection of commissioned portfolios, some made at the request of art institutions, others at the behest of company CEOs, Lee Friedlander At Work also documents, albeit subtly, 16 years of one of America’s most exceptional and hard-working photographers at work.