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Friday, September 16, 2011

Widow of Photographer Leonard Freed Lends Photos for an Incredible Show at German Historical Institute. Lecture to follow at DCJCC on Oct. 6.

I have always wanted to visit the German Historical Institute on New Hampshire and 16th St., NW, for a lecture (and reception, of course), but never found the time.  I'm very glad I did find the time last night. Brigitte Freed was the guest and the photos taken by her late husband Leonard Freed were the stars - Berlin when the Wall went up; Berlin when the Wall came down ("I told Leonard that he had to be there for that," Brigitte said); and various other photos from postwar Germany.  Freed was an American Jew, born in Brooklyn, who ventured to Europe in 1952, settling in Amsterdam until moving back to New York in 1970. As the literature handed out at the exhibit explains: "Postwar Europe was a puzzle for Freed: a land of great artistic civilization, familial aura, Jewish trauma, postwar destruction and potential redemption. In his mind, Germany was the central and most jagged piece." His photo of the Wall coming down, in black and white, spotlights the faces of the people against the backdrop of a classical building. It's brilliant. The exhibit is called An American in Deutschland (on exhibit until Nov. 15), and two other institutions are showing Freed's prints: the DC Jewish Community Center where there will be a talk on Thursday, Oct. 6 about Freed by co-curator Paul Farber (Farber's friend, Septime Webre, head of the Washington Ballet, was on hand last night); and the Goethe Institut. Farber encourages people to visit the GHI to see the photos (as do I) and said he would even give a tour if a group could be arranged. He's a very interesting young guy, who was on his way to New York to speak about a book he worked on about the television show, The Wire. Brigitte Freed lives in the Hudson River Valley with her daughter. She surprised the large crowd by pointing to one of the photos and saying, "I took that."

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