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Selected Commentary

American Photography: A Critical History 1945 to the Present

In addition to my photography being featured in the book's text, I designed and made the cover and frontispiece and also served, with author Jonathan Green, as picture editor selecting and sequencing over 300 photographs and other works of art. The book received the Nikon Book of the Year Award. “Spread across the center of the book, James Friedman's brilliant sequence of photographs goes beyond illustration to create its own significant meaning.” — Vince Leo on "American Photography: A Critical History 1945 to the Present"

Arforum, May 1985

These pictures show not so much the banality of evil, in Hannah Arendt's phrase, as the banality of "the past"—the set of stories, necessarily semifictional and self-justifying, that we as a culture construct from historical events, no matter how horrendous, to explain how we got where we are today. — Charles Hagen on "12 Nazi Concentration Camps"

AfterImage, May 1985

Friedman has, in effect, merged genres and transposed conventions. He took a subject of great social concern—a subject usually reserved for the analogic realism of the straight photograph—and photographed it using the self-referential conventions usually applied to subjects of a more private or personal nature. — Vincent Leo on "12 Nazi Concentration Camps"

View Camera, July/August 2001

The photographs do not represent the horrors we have come to know from post-war black and white photographs, but are from everyday life and places that have become well attended tourist attractions. — Greg Erf on "12 Nazi Concentration Camps"

Arts Magazine, May 1983

As Friedman photographs, then, an irony prevails over the collision of visual fact, the artist's distant but omnipresent sensibility, and the viewer's own visual recollections and expectations of concentration camp imagery. The impact of these images strikes profoundly on visual, intellectual, and emotional levels, engaging the viewer in a provocative and valuable dialogue. — Susan Harris on "12 Nazi Concentration Camps"

Celebration of Creativity: OAC Fellowships 1980-2005

James Friedman, interested in the hidden high-tech design of modern golf equipment, takes golf balls and cuts them in half for his  "Interior Design" series. The resulting large-scale color photographs contain unpredictable formal and metaphorical elements, characteristics that he also admired in the work of his mentors Minor White and Imogen Cunningham. Friedman also explores the visual representation of post-industrial technology. — Kay Koeninger on "Interior Design"