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Freund, Gisèle (1908?-2000)  
page: 1  2  

Because of her skill in psychological portraiture, she was chosen to take James Joyce's portrait for the dust jacket of Finnegan's Wake and André Malraux's portrait for the dust jacket of Man's Fate.

Shortly after the 1939 exhibitions, Freund was forced to flee Paris as the war and fascism were approaching. With the support of the Argentine writer Victoria Ocampo, she gained entry to Argentina, where she spent the war years working as a photojournalist, capturing stunning images of the Tierra del Fuego and photographing many South American artists, writers, and political figures, including Eva Peron.

In 1945, Freund spent time in Mexico, where she photographed and became friends with bisexual artist Frida Kahlo. However, she continued to think of France as her home, and in 1952, she returned there to live.

She became the only woman to work for Magnum, a cooperative photo agency that had been founded in 1947 by Henri Cartier Bresson, Robert Capa, and other photographers. However, in 1954, when she was refused entry to the U.S. because her name appeared on a McCarthy-era blacklist, Magnum fired her, fearful that her socialist sympathies would damage the agency during the anti-Communist fervor of the time.

Despite this reversal, Freund had no problem getting work as a photojournalist, and her pictures appeared in such publications as Paris Match, Art et décoration, Verve, and Images du monde.

In 1968, Freund became the first photographer to be honored with a retrospective exhibition at the Paris Musée d'Art Moderne. And in 1974, she published a revised version of her doctoral thesis as Photography and Society, now widely regarded as a standard work on the subject.

In 1980, Freund received the grand prix national des lettres, a high national honor that made her feel that she had at last been accepted by the French. In 1981 she became even more a part of the French establishment when she was commissioned to make the official presidential portrait of François Mitterand.

During the late 1980s, Freund retired from photography in order, she said, to devote herself to her other grand passion, reading. In 1983, she published a memoir, Three Days with Joyce.

Freund died on March 31, 2000 in her beloved Paris.

Tina Gianoulis

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social sciences >> Overview:  France

France, the second largest nation in Western Europe, has a rich, if markedly ambivalent, relationship to glbtq people and cultures.

social sciences >> Overview:  McCarthyism

McCarthyism, which attempted in the late 1940s and early 1950s to expunge Communists and fellow travelers from American public life, made homosexuals the chief scapegoats of the Cold War.

social sciences >> Overview:  Paris

One of the world's most iconic cities and an influential hub of Western culture, Paris is also a major international glbtq center.

arts >> Overview:  Photography: Lesbian, Pre-Stonewall

The most significant examples of pre-Stonewall lesbian photography convey relationships, reflect lesbian iconography, or show the photographer looking at and recording her beloved.

arts >> Abbott, Berenice

American photographer Berenice Abbott made memorable images of lesbians, bisexuals, and gay men in Paris in the 1920s and in New York from the 1930s through 1965.

literature >> Beach, Sylvia

Through her Parisian bookshop and her editorial work, American expatriate and lesbian Sylvia Beach did much to influence the course of modern literature.

literature >> Eliot, T[homas] S[tearns]

Although Eliot tried to suppress the fact, The Waste Land is an elegy for a young Frenchman whom he met and loved in Paris and who died in the Great War in 1915.

literature >> Gide, André

André Gide, one of the premier French writers of the twentieth century, reflected his homosexuality in many of his numerous works.

arts >> Höch, Hannah

Best known for her photomontages critiquing bourgeois culture, German bisexual artist Hannah Höch embraced a number of artistic movements and styles during her long career.

arts >> Kahlo, Frida

Bisexual Mexican artist Frida Kahlo was a masterful exponent of cross-dressing, deliberately using male drag to project power and independence.

literature >> Sackville-West, Vita

Best known for her relationship with Virginia Woolf and for her scandalous love affairs, Vita Sackville-West was a prolific author of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

arts >> Schwarzenbach, Annemarie

Swiss writer and photojournalist Annemarie Schwarzenbach documented social conditions from Afghanistan to Alabama; her fiction reflected the tormented attachments and recurring loneliness that plagued her short lifetime.

literature >> Stein, Gertrude

In addition to becoming--with Alice B. Toklas--half of an iconic lesbian couple, Gertrude Stein was an important innovator and transformer of the English language.

literature >> Woolf, Virginia

Passionate friendships with women were essential to the life and work of novelist Virginia Woolf.


Bitton, Michèle. "FREUND Gisèle (1908-2000)."

Fitch, Noel Riley. Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties. New York: Norton, 1983.

Freund, Gisèle. Photography and Society. Boston: David R Godine Publishers, 1980.

Junod, Amy, compiler. "Gisele Freund Honored: Two Portraits of Her Life as a Scholar, Feminist and Photographer." Photography at Temple: Photography for the Mass Media: Photographers (2006):

Weiss, Andrea. Paris Was a Woman: Portraits from the Left Bank. New York: Rivers Oram/Pandora Press, 1995.

Williams, Val. "Gisele Freund: Obituary." The Independent (London) (May 20, 2000):


    Citation Information
    Author: Gianoulis, Tina  
    Entry Title: Freund, Gisèle  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2007  
    Date Last Updated February 16, 2007  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2007 glbtq Inc.  


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