He has portrayed luminaries from music, art and showbiz, surreally depicted the boundlessness of the big city and brought the greats of photographic history in front of the camera. With Abe Frajndlich. Chameleon, the Fotografie Forum Frankfurt (FFF) presents the iridescent diversity in themes of the American photographer Abe Frajndlich (*1946, Frankfurt/Main).
On view are around 160 works from the 1970s onwards, including Frajndlich’s earliest vintage prints from Cleveland. As a focal aspect, the FFF retrospective presents portraits of artists who influenced Abe Frajndlich’s life, above all the performer Rosebud Conway, known as “Rosie”, as well as Minor White, photographer, founder of the magazine Aperture and Frajndlich’s photographic mentor. Also part of the show is the project Masters of Light – Frajndlich’s first major series in colour. For this, he portrayed icons of photography who, in his view, had a decisive influence on the 20th century, including Gordon Parks, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Berenice Abbott or Ilse Bing. Each of these staged pictures uniquely alludes to aspects of the icon’s life or work.
Frajndlich was commissioned by the FAZ Magazin to show his view of the American art scene in the 1980s and 90s. Extensive series of Cindy Sherman, Nancy Spero and David Ireland are good examples and on view for the first time. Also included: experimental street photography and the sensual associations from his book Eros Eterna (1999), without which “the chameleon” Fraijndlich would be unthinkable.
Abe Frajndlich’s central subjects – creativity, identity, hope , freedom – are closely related to his biography. He was born in a “DP camp” (Displaced Persons) in Frankfurt-Zeilsheim. Early migration experiences led him via Israel, Germany, France and Brazil to the USA. After having finished his literature studies with a master’s degree, he turned to photography in 1970.
Frajndlich has published numerous monographs, including Figments (1975), Portraits (2000), Penelope’s Hungry Eyes (2011), The Shooting (about Charles Bukowski, 2021) and Seventyfive at Seventyfive (2022). His work has been exhibited internationally and is held in major collections such as the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York City), Musée Nicéphore Nièpce (France), Museum Ludwig (Cologne), Jewish Museum (Frankfurt) and the National Portrait Gallery (Washington D.C.).
From 1985 Frajndlich worked for magazines such as The New York Times Magazine, LIFE, Vanity Fair and the FAZ Magazin. Today the photographer lives and works in Cleveland.
Abe Frajndlich. Chameleon, curated by Celina Lunsford, artistic director of the FFF, and co-curator Esra Klein, is the FFF’s contribution to the festive programme of the 175th Paulskirchen anniversary.
Abe Frajndlich. Chameleon
May 20 – September 17, 2023
Fotografie Forum Frankfurt
Braubachstr. 30–32, 60311 Frankfurt
SAT, 20.05., 3 pm GALLERY TALK
with ABE FRAJNDLICh and CELINA LUNSFORD [in English]
SUN, 28.05., 25.06., 3 pm KURATORINNENFÜHRUNG
with CELINA LUNSFORD
SAT, 10.09., 3pm TALK
CHAMELEON. ABE FRAJNDLICH in dialogue with author PETER STEPHAN JUNGK [in English]
PUBLIC GUIDED TOURS every Wednesday, 5 pm