The podcast “Les grandes dames de l’art” (“Great women of art”) gives a voice to the women artists of the 20th century. They talk about their work, their life, the world around them, and their achievements. Let us go in search of their presence, their secrets. Let us rediscover the hidden stories of women artists through their voices.
For this second season, we open a new chapter that plunges us into the Paris of the inter-war period, the decade that became notoriously known as the Roaring Twenties. What did the wildness of this decade consist of? It is largely due to women who flourished in this welcoming capital, lived their lives as they wanted, and became artists on equal footing with men. They played a primordial role in the construction of modernity, and we are rediscovering them today.
Gisèle Freund certainly lead one of the most turbulent lives. She recounts her double life as a photographer and historian of photography with humour and wit.
Born in 1908 to a German Jewish bourgeois family, Freund was twelve years old when her father gave her her first camera. Yet, it was out of necessity that she became a photographer: she had to pay for her studies in sociology and art history in Freiburg and Frankfurt, with the intention of becoming a journalist. She began a thesis on the history of photography, which she continued in Paris, her city of refuge from 1933 onwards. As a member of the Socialist Youth, she feared persecution.
Freund produced more than 180 portraits, often in colour, of writers and artists such as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Colette, Cocteau or Marcel Duchamp. They constitute a testimony to twentieth-century thinking. The history of photography is still in its infancy in the 30s. Gisèle Freund sets the stage for an essential reflection, as did Walter Benjamin, whom she met in Paris and whose essays are better known than hers, even though they share the same findings.
“Les grandes dames de l’art” is a podcast produced by AWARE: Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions, in collaboration with the INA, with the support of Maison Veuve Clicquot and the Ministry of Culture.
Coordinated by: Mathilde de Croix and the AWARE team
Directed by: Élodie Royer
Music by: Juliano Gil
Credits and Sound Editing: Basile Beaucaire
Scientific Advisors: Catherine Gonnard and Véronique Jolivet
Translation: Beth Gordon
French Voice: Camille Morineau
English Voice: Eléonore Besse
Translation of the Artist’s Voice: Eve Dayre