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Leica lover

Gisela Freund

Gisèle Freund

Photographer and photojournalist

1908. december 19.

2000. március 31.

When you do not like human beings, you cannot make good portraits. - Gisele Freund


Gisèle Freund (born Gisela Freund; 19 December 1908[1] in Schöneberg District, Berlin – 31 March 2000 in Paris) was a German-born French photographer and photojournalist, famous for her documentary photography and portraits of writers and artists. Her best-known book, Photographie et société (1974), is about the uses and abuses of the photographic medium in the age of technological reproduction. In 1977, she became president of the French Association of Photographers, and in 1981, she took the official portrait of French President François Mitterrand.

She was made Officier des Arts et Lettres in 1982 and Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur, the highest decoration in France, in 1983. In 1991, she became the first photographer to be honored with a retrospective at the Musée National d'art Moderne in Paris (Centre Georges Pompidou).

Freund's major contributions to photography include using the Leica Camera (with its ability to house one film roll with 36 frames) for documentary reportage and her early experimentation with Kodachrome and 35 mm Agfacolor, which allowed her to develop a "uniquely candid portraiture style" that distinguishes her in 20th-century photography.

She is buried at the Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris, France near her home and studio at 12 rue Lalande.

Wikipedia, last update 2023.03.29.

Nearly 83 years ago, a young student equipped with a Leica set out to photograph the 1st of May demonstrations in Frankfurt. They are documents directly reflecting the political resistance to the growing influence of National Socialism. It was the last time the demonstrators were allowed to march publicly through the streets carrying flags and banners, because by the following year the
1st of May had also been turned into a synchronized propaganda event.

The photographer was Gisela Freund, who was 24 at the time. She had come to Frankfurt a year earlier to continue her studies in Sociology and History of Art. She was politically active, a member of the socialist youth movement, and she used the Leica I that her father had given her when she graduated high school, to document the street demonstrations. A year later she barely managed to avoid imprisonment by escaping to Paris. She kept her Leica and the negatives of the pictures she took in Frankfurt, but they were not published. In Paris, she not only completed her dissertation, but, as Gisèle Freund, also became one of the most famous photo reporters of her times. Above all, she became internationally renowned for her colour portraits of authors and artists. Freund died in Paris on March 31, 2001.

For a long time, the early photographs from Frankfurt were forgotten. The first time they were seen was in 1995 at the Frankfurt Museum of Modern Art. Gisèle Freund had taken out the original negatives and printed a selection on Baryt paper. Thanks to a generous donation from Dr. Martin and Margarethe Murtfeld, the History Museum Frankfurt now not only has a spectacular addition of 51 photographs to their collections, but is also able to present a selection of 23 of them in a special exhibition that opened on January 12 and will run till May 3, 2015.

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