Ed Van der Elsken

A unique figure in 20th-century Dutch photography and documentary cinema, Ed van der Elsken studied sculpture in Amsterdam before focusing on photography. In the 1950s, he moved to Paris and shot the series Love on the Left Bank, published in 1956 as a photonovel. His chosen field in photography is the street. Contrary to documentary photography of his time, he becomes one with his subject. The modernity of his images and their near cinematographical dimension are in sync with the anticonfirmist lifestyle of the young people he surrounds himself with. In Paris, Amsterdam, Hong Kong or Tokyo, he liked to go ‘hunting’.

He published more than twenty books among which Bagara (1958), made of photographs from Central Africa ; Sweet life (1966), a photographic journey around the world displaying his desire for adventure, his entrepreneurial spirit and his fascination for other cultures ; Jazz (1958), an ode both free and full of life to the avant-garde musical scene of Amsterdam.

In addition to his career as a photographer, Van der Elsken directed numerous documentary and autobiographical movies. The themes are always linked, in one way or another, to his own life, as his first and his last movie prove : Welkom in het leven, lieue pleine [Welcome to life, dear little one] (1963), a portrait of his neighborhood and his family life, and Bye (1990).

His work is exhibited in many collections, including the Nederlands Fotomuseum and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

La Vie folle


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