Jill Freedman
Vintage & Later-Printed

Selected from the six books published since 1971:
Sept 21- Oct 20, 2000



Press Release

September 21 to October 20, 2000
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 21, 6-9 PM

Gabriel 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 In addition, previously unpublished work will be on display for the first time.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.

Recognized 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.

Right from the beginning of her career in the 1960's, Jill Freedman has shown
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.

Jill 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.

Located 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)

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