Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chez Gisèle

Simone de Beauvoir, 1952. Photo by Gisèle Freund

Gisèle Freund (1912-2000), the famed German-born French photographer lived above me for many years in Paris.

Freund photographed James Joyce at Sylvia Beach's bookstore (now Shakespeare & Company), just after the publication of Ulysses, spending a day with the author. She subsequently photographed the Parisian surrealists and literary lights of the 1930s and early 1940s.  She fled France when the Nazis invaded and headed to South America, Central America and Mexico where she met the leading writers and artists of that time including Jorge Luis Borges, José Clement Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueros and Diego Rivera among many others.

Her life is told in the photographs she made, and she made thousands of them, essentially documenting 20th century modernism and its leading lights. 

When she passed away in Paris in March 2000, many of her objects were put out on the street, among them the name cards for the slides she shot.  Around the same time the door buzzer to our building was changed and I acquired the old one, reinserting some of the subjects Freund photographed Assemblage constructed out of the former door buzzer of my apartment house in Paris. Click on the work, Chez Gisèle to see who lives on the 5th floor.

This work (Chez Gisèle) is available for purchase.  Contact for info.

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