Meet the maker: Ed van der Elsken
Arguably the most notorious Dutch photographer ever
Ed van der Elsken, best known for his rough black and white street photography, is still inspiring photographers to this date, so we figured it’s time to dedicate a blog post to one of the most famous and notorious photographers The Netherlands have ever seen.
After having worked in the darkrooms of the famous photography agency Magnum, Van der Elsken’s photography career took off when he published a photo book called ‘Love on the Left Bank’. The book was filled with pictures he took in Paris, where he lived with his wife and her three kids. Van der Elsken was very interested in the bohemian youngsters that gathered on the Rive Gauche of postwar Paris. He portrayed a lot of them – he also took a picture of the Australian Vali Myers (1930-2003), who would later become a famous artist and would star in Van der Elsken’s documentary ‘Death in the Port Jackson Hotel’.
In 1954, ‘Eddy’ returned to Amsterdam, where he endlessly walked the streets of the capital looking for people that were, like him, a bit racy. If you take a look at his pictures, you can see that Van der Elsken didn’t secretly hide his camera: his photos are famous for the direct contact between him and his subjects. From Amsterdam, Van der Elsken traveled to various places like Bagara and Tokyo – trips that also led to stunning photo books.
Ed van der Elsken
Lots of photo books and movies later, Van der Elsken captured his final moments in the film ‘Bye’, and died on December 28th, 1990. 24 years later, Kees de Koning of Dutch record label Top Notch relaunched ‘Amsterdam! Oude foto’s 1947-1970’, followed by a relaunch of Van der Elsken’s first color book ‘Eye Love You’ in 2016. Both books featured pictures developed from the original slides, meticulously restored by the specialists of the ‘Nederlands Fotomuseum’.
At the Stedelijk Museum exhibition, the restored slides are shown with film fragments and obviously prints of Ed van der Elsken’s pictures. The exposition, ‘De Verliefde Camera’, will be on display from February 4th till May 27th, whereafter it will move to Jeu de Paume in Paris and Fundación Mapfre in Madrid. If you’d like to donate money to the Nederlands Museum to help restore all of the 45.000 slides Van der Elsken left, check out this link.
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