Frederick C. Baldwin, co-founder of Houston’s FotoFest, remembered for championing “global vision” of photography

by AryanArtnews
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Frederick C. Baldwin, a highly beloved and renowned photographer and collector known for co-founding FotoFest in Houston, one of America’s leading photography festivals, died suddenly on December 15th at the age of 92. ..

In 1955, when 26-year-old Baldwin was barely a photographer, he was able to tell Pablo Picasso’s South French home his way while he was on vacation in the area. Baldwin’s career as a photographer began when a young chance took a portrait of a famous artist. It covers the Arctic Circle, Afghanistan, India, and most importantly, the civil rights movement in the southern United States.

However, Fred’s Baldwin was primarily remembered at a photography festival founded in 1986 with his surviving wife, Wendy Watris, in Houston, Texas, and is now considered one of the most important photo exchanges in the world. I am.

Influential British curator Mark Sealy, director of the Autograph ABP Agency in London, was commissioned by Baldwin to curate. African Cosmology: Photography, Time, etc., The 18th edition of Fotofest in March 2019, a show featuring over 30 African artists.

Sealy remembers Baldwin as “a glorious example of generosity.”

“When I met Fred and Wendy, I was amazed at how open they were,” says Sealy. Art newspaper.. “And they were open at a time when many cultural groups around the world weren’t just. They really believed that they would provide space for different types of photography. That moved them. “

According to Sealy, Fotofest often provided funding and exhibition opportunities to black British photographers who were not offered the same opportunity at their homes in the United Kingdom.

“They provided a really important platform for black British photographers very early in the game,” says Sealy. “It was transformative for us.”

Baldwin then used Fotofest as a platform for minority view photo art for decades before photofest became mainstream. “When I met Fred, you thought:” But below that was an example of the politics of care. “

“He was concerned about different perspectives. He may not have fully understood them, but he was always open to them and ready to learn,” says Sealy. .. “And that’s all we’ve been looking for. Art is about the ability to learn from each other’s experiences, and Fred embodies it.”

Baldwin’s generosity towards photographers from outside the United States, and those who haven’t named them yet, have repeatedly proved his character. Shahidul Alam, a well-known Bangladeshi photographer who has worked closely with Fotofest, remembers Fred and Wendy meeting when they first visited the United States.

“I had never met them before,” says Alam. “They had no reason to know me. I made a cold phone call and appeared in Houston. Not only were they greeted with great warmth. They fed me and took me around the Fotofest. He went and provided me with a sofa to sleep in. I was used to such hospitality for strangers in Bangladesh. I didn’t expect it in America. Since then we have been friends. It remained. “

Baldwin, the son of an American diplomat, was born in Switzerland in 1929 with privileges. He first pursued his father’s work, and then spent his perinatal youth, constantly moving from one country to the next, after his father died when Baldwin was just right. Fifth, he was sent and banished in various ways when he tried to find his place in a family, friend, or school home. The rootlessness of his childhood drove him to rebellion, and he initially failed in his research.

Not knowing what to do with himself, Baldwin joined the US Marine Corps, was sent to the Korean War in the United States, was awarded two Purple Heart badges, and took some early photographs.

In his 2019 memoirs Dear Picasso: Illustrated romance with freedom, Baldwin remembers a few years after Picasso’s filming. Meanwhile, he used his camera to photograph a Sami reindeer breeder in the Lapland region of Northern Europe and a large Arctic tundra during an expedition.

“What’s strange to me was that a tiny little camera served as a passport to the world, a key to opening all locks and all cupboards of research and curiosity,” Baldwin wrote, discovering the power of photography. I am.

Baldwin eventually returned to the United States and settled in Savannah, Georgia, in the southern United States, where he married his first wife, Monica. In his memoirs, he recalls the horrifying consequences of immersing himself in the civil rights movement after witnessing the Ku Klux Klan rally in Alabama in 1957. He met Hosea Williams, a civil rights leader and ordained minister near Martin Luther King Jr., and began taking pictures at the Chatham County Voter Crusaders Activist Conference in Williams. During this formation, Baldwin began to see photography as a tool for social use rather than a reducing way of expressing his own personal experience. He learned to remove the ego from his work.

In his memoirs, he writes: And I was creating photos in a new way. The cause I knew was correct. “

He met Watrice, then a young journalist, in New York City in 1970. Within a year of the meeting, they embarked on an old-fashioned expedition across the United States. He took a picture of the continent over there and she wrote down what they discovered and who discovered it. The two soon married and founded Fotofest in Houston in 1986. This is three years after attending the Rencontres d’Arles Photography Festival in Southern France.

In an interview with Houston Chronicle, Baldwin said the festival was founded as an “act of anger”. The medium of photography, especially the photography of events and experiences beyond the mainstream of American life, was routinely ignored by the established artistic order. world. From its founding to the present day, Fotofest’s founding mission has been to “link the global vision of art and cross-cultural exchange with its commitment to social issues.” The festival was a huge success and grew rapidly in both fame and fame. Today, it has established itself as one of the world’s leading photo exchanges.

According to Dewi Lewis, a British photobook publisher, Baldwin’s interest in the details of hosting the festival hasn’t diminished. “In every photofest I’ve attended over the last 25 years or so, Fred has always been there, always looking forward to meeting and talking, and always brightening the room,” says Lewis. .. “He had a warmth and wit that everyone could fascinate, but it often concealed his own range of achievements and his more serious aspects as a photographer, writer, educator, and social activist. rice field.”

Baldwin is survived by Watrice. Sons gratin Baldwin and Breakfast Baldwin. Granddaughter Anika Baldwin and sister-in-law Judith M. Baldwin.

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