Saturday, October 22, 2011

Gisèle Freund: Still Life in Montparnasse

Gisèle Freund, (November 19, 1908 or 1912 - March 31, 2000), used to live in my apartment building on Rue Lalande in Paris.

On my way to see a friend today I crossed through the beautiful Montparnasse Cemetery a block away to say hello to my neighbor. It was a beautiful autumn day and while it seems strange, I took a picture of her final resting place.

Freund was a wonderful photographer; well known for her dozens and dozens of portraits of artists, writers, thinkers, she chronicled a cultural era just before and after World War II.  She became famous overnight in 1939 when she followed James Joyce around Paris for three days taking pictures of him reading, talking, being James Joyce. (One of her many photos of Joyce, in color, was the cover of Time on May 8, 1939)

Freund's work is the focus of an exhibition in Paris now, Fondation Pierre Bergé/Yves Saint Laurent, “Gisèle Freund, l’Oeil Frontière,” 5 Avenue Marceau 75116 Paris.  A lovely NYT article on the exhibition by Katherine Knoor is found here: The Elegance of Gisèle Freund.

Some years ago I made an object out of some old discarded name tags she had for her slide cabinet and slide dividers that were tossed out and the apartment door buzzer that was removed (we have a new one now).  That piece is called CHEZ GISELE.

Just yesterday someone asked me if the city of Paris was going to put up a plaque on the building.  I said I'd find out.  Read more about Gisèle Freund here.


latha vijayakumar said...

My condolences

Anonymous said...

To the very end, even her gravesite is super elegant, nice work Matthew.