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Leonard Freed (1929-2006) was born and raised in working-class Brooklyn, New York. He wanted to become a painter before discovering a love of photography on a trip to Amsterdam in 1953. He travelled widely in Europe and Africa, and also studied under Harper’s Bazaar’s art director Alexey Brodovitch at his Design Laboratory.

Freed’s civil rights photo essay, Black in White America, covering the period 1963 to 1965, secured his reputation as one of the most important photographers of his generation, noted for his compassionate explorations of societal and racial injustice. He is also renowned for his photo essays on the Jewish community in Amsterdam and Germany, the Yom Kippur War, Asian immigration in England, North Sea oil development, Spain after Franco, and his essays on the New York police department in the 1970s, among others. 

In 1972, Freed became a member of Magnum photo agency. His photographs are held in the permanent collections of major art institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum Folkwang in Germany, and the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Leonard Freed