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Photobook: Dear Mr. Picasso – An Illustrated Love Affair with Freedom by Fred Baldwin

- 5 years ago

The life of celebrated American photographer, Fred Baldwin, took a shift in the course of the unusual when, during his final year of college in 1955, he resolved to interview and photograph Pablo Picasso. With no formal art training, contacts, or reason to expect success, he delivered a letter with his own drawings to the artist that he hoped would appeal to his sense of humour. After a three-day siege outside Picasso’s house in Cannes, the artist finally opened the door to Baldwin who was allowed to photograph openly in his studio.

Baldwin with Picasso
Baldwin with Picasso

The Picasso experience changed Baldwin’s life dramatically. He had followed his dream, used his imagination, overcome fear, and acted. He believed he could accomplish anything. After graduating from college, Baldwin embarked on the peripatetic life of a photojournalist. Accompanied by his Leica camera, he spent the next twenty years making exceptional picture stories about people and places, taking him to extreme adventure, and at times, great personal risk.

Kautokeino Norway
Reindeer Migration Post Easter, 1960, Kautekeino, Norway. © Fred Baldwin

He used his wit, charm and tenacity to make many friends in high places who would help get him access to locations where few or no photographers had gone before. His camera would become his passport to the world and provide the material and inspiration for this incredible book from Schilt Publishing; Dear Mr. Picasso: An Illustrated Love Affair with Freedom.

Fishing in Mexico
Marlin Fishing in Mexico, 1962. An homage to Ernest Hemingway. © Fred Baldwin
Reidsville Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan, Reidsville, Georgia, 1966 – A car being decorated for a Knights of the KKK meeting. © Fred Baldwin

Throughout the book’s over 700 pages, illustrated by hundreds of black and white and colour photographs from Baldwin’s vast photographic archive, we see reindeer migrations in Lapland, a day and a night with the Ku Klux Klan, coverage of a star-studded Nobel Prize ceremony, cod fishing in Arctic Norway, polar bear expeditions near the North Pole, and underwater images of a hooked Marlin fighting for its life in Mexico in a homage to Hemingway. In 1963, Baldwin documented the Civil Rights Movement working for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s organization as a freelance photographer. A two-year stint as Peace Corps director in Borneo was followed by more photojournalism work in India and Afghanistan.

Reidsville Ku Klux Klan 2
Ku Klux Klan, Reidsville, Georgia, 1966 – A Klan member, the Chief of Police and the Sheriff wait for the decorated KKK cars on their way to a ceremony to pass by. © Fred Baldwin

Fred Baldwin: Dear Mr. Picasso An Illustrated love affair with freedom

Dear Mr. Picasso COVER

With Select Photographs by Wendy Watriss
Design: Victor Levie, LevievanderMeer, Amsterdam
Hardback: ISBN 978 90 5330 918 6
Format: 17 x 24 cm.
704 pages with hundreds of photos in b/w and colour
Price: £45

Schilt Publishing, Amsterdam

About the author

Read Photobook: Dear Mr. Picasso – An Illustrated Love Affair with Freedom by Fred Baldwin

Simon Skinner

Co-founder // Editor

Having spent many years working in various pockets of the music industry, and always with a camera in hand, Simon has worked with organisations such as Warner/Chappell, Food Records and ultimately, co-founding the innovative independent record label, Izumi Records before moving fully into the world of publishing in 2007. Amongst numerous other projects in the last decade, he has been responsible for a number of specialist photo trade magazines and journals for the filmmaking and photography communities, along with a coffee table book entitled, "Great Britons of Photography' which he produced with Peter Dench and Leica. Now heading up PhotoBite, Simon and the team have set themselves a task of delivering informative and inspirational content for photographers of all levels, from the beginner, shooting with smartphones, to the seasoned photographer and filmmaker.