Marti Friedlander: Portraits of the Artists

Marti Friedlander (1928–2016) – one of New Zealand’s most outstanding and influential photographers – made portraits of artists, writers, potters, actors, film makers and musicians from 1959 to 2015. This was a conscious project on her part, initially motivated by her belief that creative people in the arts did not receive the public recognition they deserved from mainstream New Zealand society. Friedlander’s portraits are both insightful and compelling portrayals of independent-minded individuals, which make up a telling chronicle of the shifts in the country’s cultural life from the 1960s into the twenty-first century. They now constitute an invaluable social and artistic history.

Friedlander was deeply engaged in the cultural world she pictured while at the same time maintaining a certain distance. As an immigrant, initially settling in west Auckland, she was an outsider who came inside and perhaps, thus saw what New Zealand-born insiders may not, or could not, have seen. Her portraits include friends and others she had just met, including the now well-known and celebrated – Ralph Hotere, Rita Angus, Ans Westra and C.K Stead – as well as the now forgotten or overlooked who, nevertheless, were prominent practitioners at the time such as Suzanne Goldberg, Paul Olds, Lois McIvor, Jeff Macklin and Pauline Thompson.

The exhibition, Marti Friedlander: Portraits of the Artists, from the New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakaata in Wellington presents eighty portraits, many of them unseen publicly for many years if at all. The book of the same title (Auckland University Press), written by exhibition curator Dr Leonard Bell, features more than 250 photographs, many never before published and most full-page.

Marti Friedlander’s work has been praised both nationally and internationally. Her oeuvre of portraits of creative people is unequalled in New Zealand.

The Auckland presentation of this exhibition is generously supported by Murray Halberg Retirement Village.

Image: Marti Friedlander, Ralph Hotere, Dunedin, 1977

10 November - 28 November 2021

Photos by Sam Hartnett


Purchase the publication from our shop
Portraits of the Artists at the NZ Portrait Gallery 
RNZ interview with Dr Leonard Bell
RNZ Poetry Shelf book review
Marti Firedlander: Portraits of the artists (video)
Dr Leonard Bell on Marti Friedlander’s portraits 
Marti Friedlander and Mark Adams – exhibition reviews