Quote: "Ultimately photography is about who you are. It's the seeking of truth in relation to yourself. And seeking truth becomes a habit."

Leonard Freed joined Magnum Photos in 1956 and became a full Member in 1972.American, b. 1929, d. 2006

Born in Brooklyn, New York, to working-class Jewish parents of Eastern European descent, Leonard Freed first wanted to become a painter. However, he began taking photographs while in the Netherlands in 1953, and discovered that this was where his passion lay. In 1954, after trips through Europe and North Africa, he returned to the United States and studied in Alexei Brodovitch's 'design laboratory'. He moved to Amsterdam in 1958 and photographed the Jewish community there. He pursued this concern in numerous books and films, examining German society and his own Jewish roots; his book on the Jews in Germany was published in 1961, and Made in Germany, about post-war Germany, appeared in 1965. Working as a freelance photographer from 1961 onwards, Freed began to travel widely, photographing blacks in America (1964-65), events in Israel (1967-68), the Yom Kippur War in 1973, and the New York City police department (1972-79). He also shot four films for Japanese, Dutch and Belgian television.

Early in Freed's career, Edward Steichen, then Director of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, bought three of his photographs for the museum. Steichen told Freed that he was one of the three best young photographers he had seen and urged him to remain an amateur, as the other two were now doing commercial photography and their work had become uninteresting. 'Preferably,' he advised, 'be a truck driver.'

Freed joined Magnum in 1972. His coverage of the American civil rights movement first made him famous, but he also produced major essays on Poland, Asian immigration in England, North Sea oil development, and Spain after Franco. Photography became Freed's means of exploring societal violence and racial discrimination.

Leonard Freed died in Garrison, New York, on 30 November 2006.


1980 National Endowment for the Arts
1978 New York State Grant for the Arts


2006 Dance of the Faithful - The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, USA
2004 Made In Germany - Galerie Argus Fotokunst, Berlin, Germany
2003 Nude and Naked - Galerie Esther Woerdehoff, Paris, France
2003 Women Wearing Only Light - Radiant Light Gallery, Portland, USA
2000 Black in White America - Lee Gallery, Winchester, Maine, USA
2001 GAC Gallery, Garrison Art Center, Garrison, New York, USA
1999 Galerie Mistral, Montreal, Canada
1999 Esther Woerdehoff Gallery, Paris, France
1998 Leica Gallery, New York, USA
1998 Vision Gallery, Jerusalem, Israel
1998 Desmond-Fish Library, Garrison, New York, USA
1996 Parts Gallery, Minneapolis, USA
1996 Benny Smith Gallery, Cold Spring, New York, USA
1996 Minneapolis Photographers' Gallery, Minneapolis, USA
1996 Retrospective: The Photographs of Leonard Freed - Leica Gallery, New York,
1994 292 Gallery, New York, New York, USA
1994 Drew University, Madison, New Jersey, USA
1993 Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome, Italy
1992 Gallery FNAC, Berlin, Germany
1991 Alinari, Florence, Italy
1989 San Daniele del Friuli, Friuli, Italy
1987 Galerie Municipale du Chateau d'Eau, Toulouse, France
1984 Galerie FNAC, Paris, France
1975 Trapani, Sicily, Italy; The Photographers' Gallery, London, UK
1974 Polizzi Generosa, Sicily, Italy
1971 Jewish Museum, New York, USA
1970 Il Diaframma, Milan, Italy
1967 Liverpool Cathedral, Liverpool, UK
1966 Steendrukkerij de Jong, Hilversum, Netherlands


Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Swiss Foundation, Zürich, Switzerland
Fundación Cultural Banesto, Madrid, Spain
Riverside Museum, New York City, USA
Metropolitan Museum, New York City, USA
Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel
International Center of Photography, New York City, USA
Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France


2004 Another Life, ABP Public Affairs, Netherlands
1997 Amsterdam: The Sixties, Focus Publishing, USA
1991/92 Leonard Freed: Photographs 1954-1990, Cornerhouse, UK/Editions Nathan,
Paris/W.W. Norton & Company, USA
1990 New York Police (Photo Notes), Centre National de la Photographie, France
1984 La Danse des Fidèles, Editions du Chêne, France
1980 Police Work, Simon & Schuster, USA
1977 Berlin, Time-Life Books, New York, USA
1971 Leonard Freed’s Germany, Thames & Hudson, UK
1970 Seltsame Spiele, Verlag B?rmeier & Nikel, Germany
1970 Made in Germany, Grossman Publishers, USA
1967 Black in White America, Grossman Publishers, USA
1965 Deutsche Juden Heute, Rütten & Loening Verlag, Germany
1958 Joden van Amsterdam, de Bezige Bij, Netherlands

1993 Joey Goes to Wigstock (color,10')


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