|Died||October 9, 2019 (aged 79)|
Early life and education
Freedman was Jewish and born in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh to a traveling salesman and a nurse. As an adult Freedman photographed extensively in Ireland, quipping "I’m Jewish, but I adopted Ireland as my own old country". In 1961, Freedman graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a major in sociology. In 1964 Freedman came to New York City and had several temporary jobs including advertising copywriter. She only discovered photography while experimenting with a friend's camera.
After college, Freedman went to Israel, where she worked on a Kibbutz. She ran out of money and sang to make a living; she continued singing in Paris and on a television variety show in London.
Freedman arrived in New York City in 1964, and worked in advertising and as a copywriter. As a photographer, she was self-taught, influenced by André Kertész, idolizing W. Eugene Smith, but primarily helped by her poodle Fang:
When I was out walking in the street with Fang I saw everything, felt everything. He had a great instinct. He taught me how to look, because he never missed a thing.
Andy Grundberg would also note the influences on her style of Smith, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Don McCullin, Leonard Freed, and Weegee; but would add that: "To appreciate [her] photographs one needs to consider their substance, not their style. . . . Human relationships – especially the bonds of brotherhood – fascinate her."
On hearing of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Freedman quit her job and went to Washington, DC. She lived in Resurrection City, a shantytown put up by the Poor People's Campaign on Washington Mall in 1968, and photographed there. Photographs from the series were published at the time in Life, and collected in Freedman's first book, Old News: Resurrection City, in 1970. A. D. Coleman wrote of the book:
It is a very personal yet highly objective statement, filled with passion, warmth, sorrow and humor. Freedman's pictures are deft and strong; her text witty, sardonic and honest, with quirky insights and touching moments of self-revelation. A brave and moving book.
Freedman then lived in a Volkswagen kombi, following the Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers Circus. For two months, she photographed "two shows a day and one show each Sunday. Seven weeks of one night stands", and moving across New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Pennsylvania and Ohio. She wanted to photograph the performers as people. ("If I wanted to do freaks, I'd do guys wearing ties in 100-degree weather – to me that's freaks."[n 1]) Coleman wrote:
[The photographs expose] both the photographer's own responses to people and the personalities of her subjects. The moments she selects are significant emotionally as well as graphically. Her images exclude the extraneous in an inconspicuous way, and her sense of timing and gesture . . . is uncanny.
The work was published as a book, Circus Days, in 1975.
In 1975, Freedman started to photograph firefighters around Harlem and the Bronx. This took her two years; she lived with the firefighters, sleeping in the chief's car and on the floor. This resulted in a book, Firehouse, published in 1977—according to one review a book "flawed . . . by poor reproduction and inept layout".
Some of the firefighters had previously been policemen, and they suggested that Freedman might photograph police work. Freedman had disliked the police but reasoned that there must be good policemen among them. For her series Street Cops (1978–1981), she accompanied the police to an area of New York City including Alphabet City and Times Square, spending time with those who seemed good cops. The work resulted in the book Street Cops. A contemporary reviewer for Popular Photography started by observing that "the passionate photojournalistic essay of yesterday" was "an endangered species", before saying that it lived on in photobooks such as this one. The reviewer described Street Cops as "[celebrating] the heroism, compassion, and humor of New York police professionals", and saying that the book "is traditional and satisfying in that it accomplishes a blend rarely successful – or even attempted – these days: an organic fusion of words and photographs".
On photographing in New York at the time:
Hiding behind a camera, [Freedman] found her subjects where others were not looking – "beggars, panhandlers, people sleeping on the street," the police and the firefighters, the people washed ashore by forces bigger than themselves. "It's the theater of the streets," she said. "The weirder, the better."
During the seventies, Freedman was briefly associated with Magnum Photos, but did not become a member. She wanted to tell stories via photography, but also wanted to avoid the schmoozing required to get commissions; and she therefore set her own tasks. She had difficulty making a living, but sold prints from a stand set up outside the Whitney Museum building. In 1983, New York Times critic Andy Grunberg recognized her black and white street photography in New York, grouping Freedman with Lee Friedlander, Fred R. Conrad, Bruce Davidson, Roy DeCarava, Bill Cunningham, Sara Krulwich and Rudy Burckhardt.
In 1988, Freedman discovered that she was ill. The medical expenses meant that she had to leave her apartment above the Sullivan Street Playhouse;[n 2] in 1991, she moved to Miami Beach; she was dissatisfied there but was able to read a lot. She sometimes worked for the Miami Herald. She also managed to publish a photobook of dogs that was praised for "[defying] the clichéd images" of dog photography. She also published the second of two photobooks of Ireland, one that Publishers Weekly said "lovingly captures the enduring aspects of Irish tradition".
Around 2003,[n 3] Freedman moved back to New York. She was shocked and saddened by its sanitization during her absence: "When I saw that they had turned 42nd Street into Disneyland, . . . I just stood there and wept." She moved to a place near Morningside Park in 2007, and was still living there in 2015.
During the earlier part of her career, Freedman was captivated by the photographic printing process. She shot Kodak Tri-X and liked to use a 35 mm lens and available light, and to print on Agfa Portriga Rapid paper. As of late 2016, she neither had a darkroom nor missed it. She emphasized that the camera, whether film or digital, is merely a tool. When asked on another occasion, she approvingly cited Elliott Erwitt on not being boring and attempting to do excellent work; technical questions and even posterity should not be a concern.
Freedman was one of 13 photographers shown photographing New York in Everybody Street, a 2013 film by Cheryl Dunn. Together with Richard Kalvar, Alex Webb, Rebecca Norris Webb, Maggie Steber and Matt Stuart, she was a featured guest in the Miami Street Photography Festival 2016 at HistoryMiami Museum during Art Basel week.
Grundberg wrote in 1982 that "Indignation over injustice is the major key in [Freedman's] work, admiration for life's survivors the minor key." Maggie Steber has said of Freedman:
I think she's been thoroughly under-recognized. . . . To me, Jill is one of the great American photographers. Always has been and always will be.
In 2016, Freedman's work and career, especially her images of New York City, was the subject of renewed interest, appearing in multiple Vice articles, including their 2016 photography issue and at Art Basel Miami.
On October 9, 2019, Freedman died from complications of cancer at a care facility in Manhattan.
Awards and honors
- 1973: New York Magazine Photo Contest, First Prize
- 1973: National Endowment for the Arts, Photography Fellowship
- 1974: New York State Council on the Arts, Creative Artists Public Service Program (CAPS) Photography Grant
- 1982: A.J. Muste Journalism Award – Rex Stewart for Street Cops
- 1982: Leica Medal of Excellence (First Recipient)
- 1983: National Endowment for the Arts, group photography grant for Lower Manhattan
- 1984: American Society of Magazine Photographers (ASMP), Award for Photographic Books
- 1994: Alicia Patterson Foundation, Fellowship for The Holocaust, 50 Years Later[n 4]
- 2001: Royal Photographic Society, Honorary Fellowship
Selected solo exhibitions
- Jill Freedman: Pictures from New York, The Photographers' Gallery, London, March 1974.
- The Circus and Other Scenes, The Photographers' Gallery, London, June 1974.
- Jill Freedman, The Photographers' Gallery, London, June 1976.
- PhotoGraph Gallery, New York, January 1982.
- University Center Gallery, Drew University, Madison, New Jersey, May 1982.
- Street Cops: Jill Freedman, The Photographers' Gallery, London, September–October 1982.
- Jill Freedman Photographs, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College, Chicago, December – January 1985.
- Street Cops, Nikon Salon, Ginza, Tokyo, 1985.
- Jill Freedman: 60's to the present, Witkin Gallery, New York City, December 1996 – January 1997.
- Laughter and love: A romp through Ireland, M. J. Ellenbogen Photography, White Plains, NY, March 2006.
- Here and There, A.M. Richard Fine Art, Brooklyn, New York, April–May 2007. Paired with an exhibition, Photographs of 42nd Street, by Andrew Garn.
- Resurrection City 1968, Higher Pictures, New York City, April–May 2008.
- Street Cops 1978–1981, Higher Pictures, New York City, September–October 2011.
- Street Cops, The President's Gallery, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, September–October 2012
- Circus Days 1971, Higher Pictures, New York City, January–March 2013.
- Long Stories Short, Steven Kasher Gallery, New York City, September–October 2015. For the most part, previously unpublished examples of Freedman's earlier work.
- Resurrection City, 1968, Steven Kasher Gallery, New York, 2017
Selected group exhibitions
- Circus: The real people, Neikrug Galleries, New York City, May 1972. With Charles Reynolds.
- Soho Photo, New York City. With Harvey Stein and Mike Levins.
- Rated X, Neikrug Galleries, New York City, June 1972.
- Third Eye gallery, New York City, March 1976.
- Street Kids, New York Historical Society, New York City. With Lewis W. Hine, Jacob Riis, Ben Shahn, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Bruce Davidson and Ken Heyman.
- Manhattan Portraits, Federal Hall National Memorial, New York City, September 1984. With Laurence Fink, George Malave, Toby Old, Sy Rubin, Ed Fausty and Brian Rose.
- The Animal in Photography, 1843–1985, The Photographers' Gallery, London, June–September 1986.
- Mothers and Daughters, Burden Gallery, May 1987. With Bruce Davidson, Joel Meyerowitz, Niki Berg, Danny Lyon, Kathleen Kenyon and Rosalind Solomon.
- 2 Photographers – 5 Decades, PhotoGraphic Gallery, New York City, June–August 2006. With Arthur Lavine.
- Ireland, PhotoGraphic Gallery, New York City, January–February 2007. With Christy McNamara.
- Circus days, within Bêtes et Hommes = Beasts and Men, Grande halle de la Villette, Paris, September 2007 – January 2008.
- Gertrude's/LOT, Pittsburgh Biennial, Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, December 2011 – January 2012.
- Seriously, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York City, November 2016 – January 2017.
- International Center of Photography, New York City: 51 prints
- Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris: 21 prints
- Moderna Museet, Stockholm: 6 prints
- Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ: 6 prints "from the W. Eugene Smith Collection"
- Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.: 1 print
Works or publications
- Freedman, Jill (1970). Old News: Resurrection City. New York: Grossman. OCLC 231853020.
- Freedman, Jill (1975). Circus Days. New York: Harmony. ISBN 978-0-517-52008-6. OCLC 1177828.
- Freedman, Jill; Smith, Dennis (text by) (1977). Firehouse. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-11585-8. OCLC 3432874. – with text by retired firefighter Dennis Smith
- Freedman, Jill (1982). Street Cops. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0-060-14874-4. OCLC 7460321.
- Freedman, Jill (1987). A Time That Was: Irish Moments. New York: Friendly Press. ISBN 978-0-914-91909-4. OCLC 15315493.
- Freedman, Jill (1993). Jill's Dogs. San Francisco: Pomegranate. ISBN 978-1-566-40526-3. OCLC 29733720.
- Freedman, Jill; McCourt, Frank; McCourt, Malachy (2004). Ireland Ever: The Photographs of Jill Freedman. New York: Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 978-0-810-94340-7. OCLC 1035751328. – with text by Frank McCourt and Malachy McCourt
- A temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or 38 degrees Celsius.
- The Sullivan Street Playhouse occupied 181 Sullivan Street from 1958 to 2002. Durniak, Drew (January 13, 2012). "Sullivan Street Playhouse: Gone But Not Forgotten". Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.
- "Five years ago", says a newspaper article published on April 27, 2008; therefore presumably in 2002 or 2003. Accessed March 4, 2017.
- For the award-winning work, see Jill Freedman's group of series: "Survivors", "The Reproachful Voices of the Dead", "Judenrein" , "Traces of the Past" at Alicia Patterson Foundation.
- Leland, John (October 9, 2019). "Jill Freedman, Photographer Who Lingered in the Margins, Dies at 79". The New York Times.
- Koppel, Niko (April 27, 2008). "Through Weegee's Lens". The New York Times.
- Cuénin, Jonas (September 29, 2015). "Portrait of Jill Freedman: Street Jazz" (PDF). L'Œil de la Photographie.
- by Maureen Cavanagh October 16, 2019 pro-photo-daily Close-Up: Remembering Jill Freedman
- By Roslyn Bernstein December 6, 2017 Guernica
- Emblen, Frank (May 2, 1982). "New Jersey Guide; Photo Show at Drew". The New York Times.
- Johnston, Laurie (September 4, 1977). "Photography Beckoned, and Now It's the Light of Her Life". The New York Times.
- Bryant, Austin (May 16, 2016). "'I Love to See Men Cry': Interview With Jill Freedman, Street Photographer of the '70s and '80s". Jezebel.
- Estrin, James (January 13, 2014). "Cops, Clowns and Cameras". The New York Times.
- Grundberg, Andy (January 17, 1982). "Photography View; Jill Freedman: A Photojournalist of Passion and Empathy". The New York Times.
- Quershi, Bilal (June 21, 2008). "Capturing the Poor People's Campaign". Weekend Edition Saturday. NPR.
- Coleman, A. D. (January 17, 1971). "Photography: Children, Poverty And Black Women". The New York Times.
- Bourus, Kim (January 31, 2013). "Jill Freedman; Exhibition: Circus Days 1971". Higher Pictures.
- Coleman, A. D. (May 7, 1972). "Photography: Who Will Be the Replacements?". The New York Times.
- Baker, R.C. (April 24, 2007). ""Jill Freedman and Andrew Garn"; within Where the Mechanical Things Are". Village Voice.
- Goldsmith, Arthur (March 1982). "Jill Freedman: Street Cops". Popular Photography: 98, 121 – via Google Books.
- Goh, Melisa (September 1, 2015). "Stories of a fearless street photographer". CNN.
- Bourus, Kim (September 15, 2011). "Jill Freedman; Exhibition: Street Cops 1978 - 1981". Higher Pictures.
- Leland, John (September 17, 2015). "For a Street Photographer, 'The Weirder, the Better'". The New York Times.
- Cuénin, Jonas (September 29, 2015). "New York: Long Stories Short by Jill Freedman at the Steven Kasher Gallery" (PDF). L'Œil de la Photographie.
- Grundberg, Andy (December 9, 1983). "New York in Black and White". The New York Times.
- "MSPF 2016 Featured Artist: Jill Freedman". Miami Street Photography Festival. 2016.
- Johnson, Adrienne M. (July 3, 1994). "Hair of the Dog". Los Angeles Times.
- "Nonfiction Book Review: Ireland Ever: The Photographs of Jill Freedman". Publishers Weekly. October 1, 2004.
- Maurer, Daniel (December 17, 2013). "Read Jill Freedman's Epic Rant About Photography and the 'Mechanized Mindlessness' of Today's NYC". Bedford + Bowery.
- Neubart, Jack (October 18, 2016). "Photographer Profiles: What's Black and White and Read All Over?: The Documentary Photography of Jill Freedman". Shutterbug.
- "Everybody Street – Cast". Everybody Street. 2013. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016.
- Nelson, Karin (November 12, 2013). "Everybody Street". W Magazine.
- Leland, John (November 1, 2013). "Around Any Corner, Moments That Endure". The New York Times.
- "Miami Street Photography Festival 2016". HistoryMiami Museum. December 2016.
- Cuénin, Jonas (May 21, 2015). "Jill Freedman: For Life" (PDF). L'Œil de la Photographie.
- "An Intimate Look at the Nightly Routine of Miami Strippers". Vice. July 24, 2016.
- Freedman, Jill (August 22, 2016). "Men Through the Lens of a Legendary Female Street Photographer". Vice.
- Freedman, Jill (November 30, 2016). "Stunning Photos of Miami as It Used to Be". Vice.
- Coleman, A. D. (June 2, 1974). "Photography: Quality and Quantity Are Improving". The New York Times.
- "Jill Freedman. Fellowship title: The Holocaust, 50 Years Later". Alicia Patterson Foundation. 1994.
- "Honorary Fellowships (HonFRPS)". Royal Photographic Society. 2001. Archived from the original on January 27, 2017. Retrieved March 5, 2017.
- Exhibition history, 1971 – present Archived March 14, 2016, at the Wayback Machine (PDF), The Photographers' Gallery, 2015. Accessed March 5, 2017
- Exhibitions at The Photographers' Gallery 1971–Present Archived June 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine (DOC), The Photographers' Gallery, February 13, 2013. Accessed March 4, 2017.
- "Jill Freedman photographs", Museum of Contemporary Photography. Accessed March 4, 2017. The source doesn't make clear whether this was from December 1984 to January 1985, or from December 1985 to January 1986.
- Ina Nobuo Shō 20-nen: Nikon Saron ni miru gendai shashin no keifu (伊奈信男賞20年：ニコンサロンにみる現代写真の系譜) = Ina Nobuo Award '76–'95 (Nikon Salon Books 23; Tokyo: Nikkor Club, 1996), p. 153. (The source doesn't specify the period within 1985, but suggests that it was late in the year.)
- Roberta Smith, "The world through women's lenses", The New York Times, December 13, 1996. Accessed March 6, 2017.
- "Calendar", The New York Times, February 26, 2006. Accessed March 6, 2017.
- "Jill Freedman: Here and there", A.M. Richard Fine Art, March 4, 2007. Accessed March 4, 2017.
- "Andrew Garn: Photographs of 42nd Street", A.M. Richard Fine Art, March 4, 2007. Accessed March 4, 2017.
- "Jill Freedman: Resurrection City, 1968, Higher Pictures, 2008. Accessed 4 March 2017.
- Niko Koppel, "A photographer and her subject, reunited decades later", The New York Times, May 8, 2008. Accessed March 5, 2017.
- "Jill Freedman: Street Cops 1978–1981", Higher Pictures, 2011. Accessed March 4, 2017.
- "Jill Freedman", The New Yorker. Accessed March 5, 2017.
- Jonas Cuénin, "Jill Freedman: Circus Days", L'Œil de la Photographie, February 21, 2013. Accessed March 8, 2017.
- Alison Meier, "Seedy side of the circus", Salon, February 18, 2013. Accessed March 8, 2017.
- "Jill Freedman: Long stories short", Steven Kasher Gallery, 2015. Accessed March 4, 2017.
- Norman Borden, "Freedman's photos revel in vintage New York", The Villager, October 7, 2015. Accessed March 4, 2017.
- Mason, John Edwin. "How a Photographer Illuminated the Plight of the 'Invisible Poor'". Time. Archived from the original on October 27, 2017. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
- David L. Shirey, "Art: Downtown scene", The New York Times, March 18, 1972. Accessed March 6, 2017.
- Gene Thornton, "Photography", The New York Times, June 11, 1972. Accessed March 6, 2017. "The few successful pictures in this exhibition show nudity and sex as somehow existing here in the world with the rest of us. Jill Freedman treats it as a comic spectacle."
- Ann Barry, ed, "Arts and leisure guide", The New York Times, March 7, 1976. Accessed March 6, 2017.
- "New photo shows full of surprises", The New York Times, February 17, 1978. Accessed March 6, 2017.
- Richard F. Shepard, "Going out guide", The New York Times, September 27, 1984. Accessed March 6, 2017.
- Patricia Leigh Brown, "Images: Mothers and daughters", The New York Times, May 4, 1987. Accessed March 6, 2017.
- Steven Snyder, "One New York, through two very different lenses Archived March 7, 2017, at the Wayback Machine", Downtown Express, June 30 – July 6, 2006. Accessed March 4, 2017.
- William Meyers, "Hitting the New York note", The New York Sun, June 22, 2006. "Again and again [Freedman] hits the New York note, that combination of paradox and pathos, of the tawdry and the supernally [sic] beautiful, that fills New Yorkers with pride and despair, and that all of us recognize as our own."
- Notice for Ireland, Photography Now. Accessed March 4, 2017.
- "Bêtes et Hommes" (PDF), Bêtes et Hommes, 2007. Accessed March 4, 2017.
- Mary Thomas, "22 women artists deliver provocative show at The Warhol", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 21, 2011. Accessed March 6, 2017.
- "Seriously Archived November 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine", Andrew Edlin Gallery, 2016. Accessed March 4, 2017.
- The ICP's holdings are as found here on March 3, 2017. Accessed March 4, 2017.
- The BnF's holdings are as found here on March 3, 2017. Accessed March 4, 2017.
- The Moderna Museet's holdings are as found here on March 3, 2017. Accessed March 4, 2017.
- Photograph Collection: Center for Creative Photography: F (PDF, "last modified March 26, 2005"), p. 30. (This says "See also: GROUP PORTFOLIOS: Ten Photographers, 1978".) Accessed March 4, 2017.
- "Jill Freedman". Smithsonian American Art Museum. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
- Official website
- Jill Freedman at Getty Images
- Jill Freedman's Madhattan - Miami Street Photography Festival 2016 (33 min video). Miami: Miami Street Photography Festival. December 11, 2016 – via YouTube.
- SVA Masters Digital Photography: i3 lecture with Jill Freedman (46 min video). New York: School of Visual Arts. 2016 – via Vimeo.