Paris

Gisèle Freund

Centre Pompidou

Every retrospective has its surprises, but in the case of photographer Gisèle Freund’s “Itinéraires” (Itineraries) at the Centre Pompidou, these have less to do with unknowns than with knowns. Like modern-day icons, her five-plus decades of writers’ and artists’ portraits are so familiar and so indissociable from their subjects that they have virtually eclipsed their creator. There is, for example, the classic image of André Malraux, eternalized at age 34 with a cigarette between his lips and hair blowing in the wind; or James Joyce at home in his plaid tie and velvet smoking jacket; or the (exceptionally) close-cropped head of Virginia Woolf, silver-haired, marble skinned, totally lost in wistfulness, two years before her death in 1941. Or, in the extreme, the official portrait of President François Mitterand (as man of letters, obviously), which has been hanging in every public building

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