Gisèle Freund

Last week on Instagram we posted some photos of Frida Kahlo by the inimitable photographer Gisèle Freund and thought you’d all love to see a little more of her incredible oeuvre. Freund was an intellectual, a writer, a sociologist and was widely regarded as one of the world's greatest photographers. Raised in a wealthy Jewish family in Berlin, she fled during the war after one of her close friends was kidnapped and killed. She left with little more than her camera and rolls of negatives taped around her body to get past the border guards. She moved to Paris before traveling around Europe and South America to escape the war and work. Over the course of her incredible career, she befriended and photographed some of the most famous figures of the twentieth century included Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Henri Mattise, T S Eliot, Colette, Jean Cocteau, Simone De Beauvoir, Andre Breton, and James Joyce, the infamously difficult writer. Although she is highly regarded for her portraiture she had a passion for photo reportage. Her style often focused on hands, body posture, and clothing in order to translate a familiarity with her subjects, a unique ability that distinguished her in 20th Century photography. This can be seen in her preference to take unstaged photos of her subjects often in movement, surrounded by their desks, books, letters and oddities. She has an incredibly wide range of photographs ranging from the exploration of desolate poverty in England to Jewelery studies of rich movie heroines in Argentina. Although she made a career as a portraitist, expressed in the many masterpieces she left behind, she insisted on wanting to be remembered for her less glamorous but in some ways, she felt, more worthy work, as witness to human suffering.


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