Gisèle Freund | photographic portraits

Berlin-born photographer Gisèle Freund (1908-2000) came to prominence in Parisian exile, staging her first exhibition at the Maison des Amis des Livres, whose proprietor Adrienne Monnier is pictured here. Some of Freund’s early photos were taken with 35 mm film offcuts from the cinematic works of Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dalí and Jean Cocteau. The latter, along with other members of the photographer’s illustrious circle, are here depicted around the start of World War Two. Freund seems to locate the tensions of the time in the faces of her subjects; Stefan Zweig, Walter Benjamin, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce were dead within three years, all but Joyce by their own hands. An exhibition of Freund’s work begins today at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin.

Adrienne Monnier 1938

Adrienne Monnier

James Joyce

James Joyce



George Bernard Shaw 1939

George Bernard Shaw

Jean Cocteau 1939

Jean Cocteau

Vita Sackville-West

Vita Sackville-West

Paul Valéry 1938

Paul Valéry

Stefan Zweig 1939

Stefan Zweig

Sylvia Beach 1939

Sylvia Beach

Thornton Wilder 1939

Thornton Wilder

Virginia Woolf 1939

Virginia Woolf

Walter Benjamin 1938

Walter Benjamin

Further reading
Places: Phoenix Park, Places: Miramare, Wyndham Lewis | portrait studies (James Joyce)
Berenice Abbott | portraits (Joyce, Cocteau, Beach)
Pearls: Colette, A fountain of ink, Dress-down Friday: Mathilde de Morny, La Marquise de Sade, Monsieur le Marquis (Colette)
Pearls: Jean Cocteau, The ghosts of Versailles, Death becomes her, Phantom of the empire, World Famous Aerial Queen, Dress-down Friday: Barbette, Circles: Ludwig II/Sissi, Jacques-Émile Blanche | portraits, Circles: Erika and Klaus Mann (Jean Cocteau)
Lady Ottoline Morrell | photographic portraits (Virginia Woolf)
Germaine Krull | arcades, Tiergarten (Walter Benjamin)

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  1. Of course I had seen her iconic images before (even had a postcard of the Woolf portrait on my wall for years), but my first introduction to Freund as a person was her interviews found in the documentary Paris Was a Woman. She proved to be just as fascinating an individual as the (more) famous ones she photographed. Makes me wish I was in Germany this summer!


  2. Pingback: Gisèle Freund | photographic portraits |...

  3. How very wonderful. She seems to have the aesthetics of painting (transplanted into photography).
    Where were you lately? I missed reading posts like this one.

  4. Pingback: Gisèle Freund | photographic portraits |...

  5. Pingback: Oskar Schlemmer | Triadic Ballet designs | Strange Flowers

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