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Issue No. 17 - Enigma

Jill Freedman: Long Stories Short at Steven Kasher Gallery

Image above: ©Jill Freedman / Courtesy of Steven Kasher Gallery, New York.

Steven Kasher Gallery presents, Jill Freedman: Long Stories Short, the first exhibition of the artist’s work at the gallery. The exhibition features over 50 black and white vintage prints from the late 1960s to the early 1990s. This overview includes work from her famous projects on New York cops, New York firemen, Resurrection City protestors, circus workers, and dogs, as well as unpublished photographs. When Freedman holds a camera it is always to stand up for intimate causes. Photography is not her business, but her life partner. She photographs what she cares about, whether that be major events of the 20th century such as Civil Rights protests and the after-effects of the Holocaust, or the everyday life of her beloved New York City.

Untitled 2editImages above: ©Jill Freedman / Courtesy of Steven Kasher Gallery, New York.

 

Described by art critic A.D. Coleman as “one of the great unsung documentary photographers of her generation”, Jill Freedman has captured over the past 40 years the joys and tragedies of ordinary life. In 1975-81, executing what would become some of her most iconic work, Freedman followed the firemen of Harlem and the South Bronx with her camera in hand, after which she transitioned to photographing New York City policemen in the Lower East Side and Times Square. Without a doubt Freedman’s heart belongs to New York City, her chosen home since arriving here at age 25. “Coming to New York is always a way of getting away from your own life,” she confesses. In New York she exposes her lens to the heroism, athleticism and drudgery of our civil servants. She also scrutinizes the sex, violence, squalor and cheeky humor scattered through our city. She portrays the citizens of New York with great affection, but also with feelings of amusement, disgruntlement, anger, sorrow, even despair. She is a photographer of tremendous emotional range.

Loose ChangeImage above: ©Jill Freedman / Courtesy of Steven Kasher Gallery, New York.

Jill Freedman is a self-made photographer. Born in 1939 in Pittsburgh, Freedman studied sociology and anthropology before arriving in Greenwich Village in 1964. Starting her career as a singer in nightclubs, she picked up a camera on a whim which led to a career as a full-time photographer. She never studied photography formally, but took as mentors W. Eugene Smith, Andre Kertesz, Dorothea Lange and Henri Cartier-Bresson. She has rarely photographed on commission, preferring to set her own assignments, usually book-length projects. Freedman can be compared to one of the most iconic photographers of New York, Weegee, with whom she shares the same tastes for the margins and for night life, and the same love for all classes of New Yorkers.

In May 1968, she participated in the Poor People’s Campaign in Washington D.C., during which she started photographing Resurrection City, built by the protestors on the Washington Mall. She published her first book, documenting those events, in 1971. Seven books of the artist’s work have been published to date, each linked to a specific series: Old News: Resurrection City (Grossman, 1971); Circus Days (Harmony, 1975); Firehouse (Doubleday, 1977); Street Cops (Harper & Row, 1982); A Time That Was: Irish Moments (Friendly Press, 1987); Jill’s Dogs (Pomegranate Art Books, 1993); Ireland Ever (Harry Abrams, 2004). Freedman is currently working on an eighth book, a 30-year project featuring photographs of New York, tentatively titled Madhattan. This exhibition will present works from all eight of her book projects.

B2Image above: ©Jill Freedman / Courtesy of Steven Kasher Gallery, New York.

 

Jill Freedman’s photographs are held in the permanent collections of major art institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the International Center of Photography, New York; the New York Public Library; the Jewish Museum, New York; the George Eastman House, Rochester; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Bibliotheque Nationale de France. She has had solo exhibitions at numerous American museums, including the International Center of Photography, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; the George Eastman House and twice at the Photographers’ Gallery, London. She has been the recipient of numerous awards, including two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, an Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship and was granted an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society, London in 2001.

Jill Freedman: Long Stories Short is the debut exhibition curated by new gallery director Anais Feyeux. Feyeux was previously Assistant Curator at the Musée National d'Art Moderne Centre Georges Pompidou. She is the Co-Founder and former President of the Association for Photographic Research (ARIP) based in Paris and has published more than 40 articles on the history of modern and contemporary photography. This exhibition was curated with the assistance of Ayse Erduran.

Images above: ©Jill Freedman / Courtesy of Steven Kasher Gallery, New York.

 

Jill Freedman: Long Stories Short will be on view September 17th – October 24th, 2015. Steven Kasher Gallery is located at 515 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10001. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 AM to 6 PM. For more information about the exhibition and all other general inquiries, please contact Cassandra Johnson, 212 966 3978, cassandra@stevenkasher.com

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