21 to October 20, 2000
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 21, 6-9 PM
Byrne and Gallery 49 are pleased to announce the opening of
Jill Freedman's first solo exhibition at the gallery, on September
21. The show will include forty of Freedman's best-known images,
mostly vintage photographs selected from the six photo-essays
she has published since 1971: Old News: Resurrection City
(1971), Circus Days (1975), Firehouse (1977), Street Cops (1982),
A Time That Was: Irish Moments (1987), and Jill's Dogs (1993).
In addition, previously unpublished work will be on display
for the first time. A public reception will be held on Thursday,
September 21, from 6 to 9 pm. Jill Freedman will be present
and will be signing copies of her now out of print books between
7 and 7:30 pm.
by the art critic A.D. Coleman as "one of the great unsung documentary
photographers of her generation", Jill Freedman has captured
over the past 30 years the joys and tragedies of ordinary life.
Often nostalgic or amusing, but never dishonest, her black-and-white
pictures are poignant and thoughtful observations of social
issues and everyday interactions. Whether her camera scans the
urban streets, the Irish countryside, the backstage lives of
New York cops, firefighters, and circus performers, Freedman
seeks singular, unusual instants, transforming the familiar
and forcing us to look at our own surroundings from new and
surprising viewpoints. What always distinguished her work is
the unmistakable ability to transform common people and subjects
into iconic images, and to invest the camera image with an emotional
tone that would be invariably understood by all.
from the beginning of her career in the 1960's, Jill Freedman
a remarkable talent for capturing intimate moments rich with
narrative possibilities, as well as expressions and gestures
that perfectly unveil emotional states. And that is because,
unlike other social documentarists, Freedman lived with her
subjects and told their stories from an insider's perspective.
For her first book, Old News: Resurrection City (1971)
she encamped on the Washington mall with thousands of protesters
after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in the spring
of 1968. For Circus Days (1975) she traveled from town
to town for seven weeks with the Beatty-Cole circus, while the
photo-essays Firehouse (1977) and Street Cops (1982)
were the aftermath of years spent with the South Bronx's firefighters
and the men and women of Manhattan's Ninth and Midtown South
Precincts. Since 1973 Freedman kept coming back to Ireland,
to a country deeply embedded in her soul and a landscape she
refers to as my Old Country and the last place on earth. The
Irish experience reached its climax in 1987, with A Time That
Was: Irish Moments, Freedman's nostalgic reflection on the old
ways of life, completed with the financial support of her friend,
Aaron Siskind. In between other projects, Jill Freedman continued
to photograph dogs, expressing her profound empathy with these
creatures and succeeding in revealing their almost human character.
Jill's Dogs (1993) grasps in a often humorous, but
always compassionate way, the peculiar dog psychology, in which
cuteness and adult demeanor are inextricably mixed.
Freedman's work is in the permanent collections of the Museum
of Modern Art, The International Center of Photography, The
Smithsonian, The Museum of Fine Art in Houston, The Jewish Museum,
George Eastman House, The Museum of Photographic Arts in San
Diego, and The Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, among others.
She has been the recipient of numerous awards, including two
grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and an Alicia
Patterson Foundation Fellowship. Currently Jill Freedman works
and resides in Miami Beach, Florida.
at 322 West 49th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues, Gallery@49
is open from noon to 6 pm, Tuesday through Saturday. The gallery
can be reached by taking the E, C subways to 50th Street, or
N, R to 49th Street. For more information or visual material,
contact Monica A. Rotaru at (212) 767-0855.
Jill Freedman's work displays a compassion and humor that is
unique among modern photographers. Whether she is dealing with
New York street life or rural Ireland her work is subtly and
powerfully political. Freedman conveys beautifully in all her
pictures what Maupassant described as an innate empathy with
the submerged population. (Gabriel Byrne)