Leonard Freed

USA / 1929 - 2006 / wikipedia / clair.me / fotomuseumdenhaag.nl
Born in Brooklyn, to working class Jewish immigrants from Belarus, Freed originally had ambitions to become an artist, however in 1954 he was to study photography at the New School under the esteemed Harpers Bazaar Art Director, Alexey Brodovitch. The photography he produced from this time was imbued with a uniquely humanitarian vision. Two of Freed’s most significant American projects, are Black in White America (1964-1965) and Police Work (1972-1979), as well as documents reflecting his lifetime interest in his Jewish heritage. Alongside these are photographs that record daily life in America, from Vietnam War protesters and Harlem fashion shows, to street life in Greenwich Village and weddings in Little Italy.

Shortly after his studies, Freed embarked on a 2-year journey, hitchhiking through Europe & North Africa. The resulting images were published in Freed’s first book Jews of Amsterdam (1959) & a solo exhibition in the Netherlands. It was whilst on this journey that Freed’s interest in civil rights developed, after he photographed a black American soldier at the Berlin Wall and was shocked at the contrast between the man’s loyalty to the West and the struggle he perceived back home for basic civil rights.

Returning to America in the early 1960s, Freed embarked on a project which was to define his career; the documentation of Harlem and the Deep South, illustrating the inequalities between being black or white in 1960s America. The astounding images... were published in Freed’s landmark book Black in White America (1967) and were to propel his photographic career. Freed would later photograph pioneering civil rights figure Dr Martin Luther King, the 1963 March on Washington and the rallies performed by the Congress of Racial equality.

...Freed’s Jewish heritage has been a reoccurring, lifetime theme and his coverage of the Yom Kippur War and events in Israel in the late 1960s deservedly granted him Cornell ...
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First Collected by

Jaak Mortelmans


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