Leonard Freed : Jews of Amsterdam
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Yayıncı Schilt ( 10 / 2015 ) ISBN 9789053308578 | Ciltli | 15,01x21,01x2,21 cm. | İngilizce | Türler Fotoğraf
At the start of his life-long career, Magnum photographer Leonard Freed (1929-2006) lived for many years in Amsterdam, from 1957 till 1968. As an American Jew, coming from a family of Russian immigrants, he felt at ease in this historic city with its liberal spirit and longstanding tradition of tolerance to Jews. Fascinated by the remarkable recovery of Jewish life in Amsterdam after the Holocaust, the young Freed made this the topic of his first documentary as a professional photographer. Immersing himself in the Amsterdam Jewish community for more than a year in 1957-1958, he visited synagogues, study centres, schools, festivities, and followed people in their homes, at work and on the streets. Working within the traditions of humanistic photography, Freed made a multifaceted and compelling portrayal of a community that had endured unimaginable sufferings, but was now trying to forget, and rebuild a new life, showing a striking resilience and vitality. Considering himself to be an author rather than a journalist, from the onset it was Freed’s aim not to make an encyclopaedia of Jewish life, but to paint an atmosphere, ‘to depict a vibrant community’. He therefore focused optimistically on the younger generations and left out any hints to the Holocaust, such as the ruins of the Jewish quarter. This hopeful perspective, of looking at the future and forgetting the past, seems to be both a reflection of Freed’s own outlook on life and the prevailing spirit in the Jewish community in the 1950s. Today, in hindsight, we know that the traumas of war were still lingering on and could not be ignored, to burst out in the 1960s and 1970s. This knowledge of hidden pain and silence brings to the pictures a duality, a historical layering and a sense of poignancy, that Freed and the people he photographed could not have been aware of. It is notable that even as a young photographer, Freed proved himself to be a compassionate observer of people and a master in the recording of spontaneous behaviour, subtle gestures and the capturing of a sense of intimacy. The magnificent lively pictures that he made of Jewish life in Amsterdam mark the beginning of an immense oeuvre that put Freed among the ranks of the greatest photographers of the 20th century. Nearly sixty years after the making, Jews of Amsterdam stands out not only for its artistic qualities, but also as a historical document of singular value, as not many pictures survived of Jewish life in Amsterdam in the immediate post-war years. Only a small selection of the more than 2500 images of this series was published in Freed’s first photo book Jews of Amsterdam (1958). In 2013 the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam rediscovered the series and acquired 100 vintage prints from Freed’s widow. In addition, the museum bought 50 new prints of unpublished images. This book presents some 120 photos, an introduction by curator of photography Bernadette van Woerkom, and a number of interviews with people that were identified in the photos.
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