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Gisèle Freund. The world and my camara

A photographic journey in the form of portraits. A journey, guided by Gisèle Freund, that takes us around the cities of the twentieth century, illustrating the events that took place in them and some of the most decisive figures to have left their mark.

A series of portraits that contained within them an invention: that of the barely intuited potential of civil society, and of the activating role of the intellectuals who were incipiently coming to the fore. The exhibition makes its way around Gisèle Freund's half century of professional life with approximately one hundred and fifty photographs that reveal the evolution of her visual perception influenced by her new friends, different backgrounds and cultures, light and colours, and the precision and sensibility of her camera to capture the atmosphere of the places, the foremost events and the protagonists of the moment in every field.

But these images that time was to turn into icons conceal a story, a human relationship and a whole procedure for capturing the face of which Gisèle Freund was master and theorist: "we live in a face that we do not see." This exhibition gives it back to us.

Curators: Lydia Oliva

In the form of a journey to the places which marked the life of the photographer, visitors to the exhibition Gisèle Freund. The World and my Camera can discover the gallery of celebrities portrayed by Freund: influential personalities from the fields of culture, art, literature and politics whom she had the opportunity to meet and get to know and who shaped one of the most stimulating and prolific periods of the twentieth century: James Joyce, Walter Benjamin, Virginia Woolf, Evita Perón, Jorge Luis Borges, Victoria Ocampo, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Simone de Beauvoir, Henry Matisse, Julio Cortázar...

1. FRANKFURT. This section includes a series of images of the first student and popular demonstrations in the city of Frankfurt against Nazism, photographs which she concealed on her person when she fled Germany.

2. PARIS. This section centres on the writers and other foremost personalities of cultural life, and her first colour portraits dating from 1938: James Joyce, Sylvia Beach, Adrienne Monnier, Walter Benjamin, Malraux, Cocteau, Colette, Virginia Woolf, Ortega y Gasset, etc.

3. SAINT SOZY: THE SECOND REFUGE. Between 1940 and 1942, Gisèle Freund took refuge in this small village in the south of France. During this period, she gave up working and only took photographs of the members of the family who took her in.

4. SOUTH AMERICA: EXILE Her report about Evita Perón and the portraits of the Argentinian writers she met in the course of these years: Jorge Luis Borges, Victoria Ocampo, Eloy Bioy Casares, etc. There is also a fair representation of her Mexican photos to admire: Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Siqueiros, etc.

5. A TIME FOR FRIENDS, A TIME FOR MUSEUMS, A TIME FOR WRITTEN REFLECTION. Portraits of various figures from the artistic and cultural world of the time: Duchamp, Man Ray, Beauvoir, Sartre, Le Corbusier, Matisse, Bonnard, Cortázar, etc.



1908: Born in Berlin-Schöneberg into an upper middle-class German Jewish family.

1923: Her father's present to her on her fifteenth birthday was her first camera, a Voigtländer 6 x 9, and on completion of her baccalaureate she was given a Leica.

1931-33: Began sociology studies at the University of Freiburg, later going on to the Institut für Sozialforschung (Institute of Social Research) in Frankfurt.

Took part in the fight against National Socialism.

On 30 May 1933, she fled Frankfurt to avoid arrest and settled in Paris.

1935: Photographed André Malraux on the occasion of the republication of La condition humaine.

Met Adrienne Monnier, owner of the Parisian bookshop La Maison des Amis des Livres.

1936: Presented her doctoral thesis at the Sorbonne: La Photographie en France au XIXème siècle, published by Adrienne Monnier.

1938: First colour photographs.

1939: The front cover of the magazine Time featured one of her portraits of James Joyce on the occasion of the publication of the book Finnegans Wake.

1940: With the advance of German troops, she fled Paris and took refuge in a village in the southern French region of Le Lot.

1942: The situation of German Jews was becoming worse every day. Victoria Ocampo invited her to Argentina, where she spent her second term of exile which lasted until the end of the war.

1946: Founded the Committee of Solidarity with French Writers, which collected over three tonnes of supplies and clothes.

1950: The magazine Life published her feature on Eva Perón. She settled in Mexico for two years.

1952: Definitive return to Paris.

1965: Published her first book: James Joyce in Paris. His final years.

1968: Retrospective exhibition at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

1970: Published her first autobiographical book: Le monde et ma caméra.

1974: Published Photographie et societé, a book of essays about photography, translated into English with the title Photography and Society.

1977: Published the second volume of her autobiography, Mémoires de l'œil.

1980: The French Ministry for Culture awarded her the Grand Prix National des Arts for photography.

1981: Produced the official portrait of the President of the French Republic, François Mitterrand.

1983: Awarded the French decoration, the Légion d'Honneur.

1990: Retrospective exhibition held at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

2000: Died in Paris at the age of 91.

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