PHOTOGRAPHY : World renowned photographer Fred Baldwin has published his memoirs at the age of 90. Is this a peculiar insight into a person who, through everything and everyone he meets, first and foremost sees himself?

Trige Andersen is a freelance journalist and historian.
Published: 2020-02-03
Dear Mr. Picasso. An illustrated love affair with freedom
Author: Fred Baldwin Sign
The Netherlands,

Judging by the reviews, it has been a pleasure for many, but for me it was a tear-jerking struggle to get through photographer Fred Baldwin's endless autobiography. Almost 700 pages, nothing less could do it, and if it's Baldwin's images you are fascinated by, then it's not Dear Mr. Picasso. An illustrated love affair with freedom one must seize.

Without being able to count, it seems to me that the number of photos is unreasonably exceeded by, for example, the number of descriptions of Baldwin's encounters with "girls" that he found, more or less, interesting and beautiful.

Baldwin is - or became over time - a gifted photographer, according to his own making because he was too dyslexic to become a writer. Even without spell check and proofreading, however, dyslexia would be his smallest problem. The biggest thing is that he doesn't find any details in his life too small to overshadow the big events he's been in.

Look at me, Mom

Fred Baldwin grew up in a white upper-class family in the southern states, lost his diplomatic father at the age of five, and never really managed to live up to his female-dominated family's expectations. He was just as unable to concentrate on studies as he was to socialize in the finer circles.

Passage to India
Passage to India. (c) Fred Baldwin

The autobiography opens with the description of a meeting Fred Baldwin had with his mother - after finding his photographic calling. Finally, he had to show her that he was dued for something. To say the least, that meeting did not go as the prodigal son had hoped.

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In contrast to many other parts of the book, this drama is actually quite intriguing, albeit sometimes difficult to find: Is Fred Baldwin's meticulous review of his own family tree intended as a backdrop to understand his role as the family's black sheep? Or is it also a kind of (perhaps unconscious, but certainly bizarre) boast about the distinguished blood in his veins?

Picasso's house

From here we are otherwise drawn through big and small, which is…

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