(1925, Amsterdam -1990, Edam NL), ‘enfant terrible’ of Dutch photography, was a photographer and filmmaker who expressed his meetings with people in photos, photo books and films for more than 40 years. He started to photograph at the end of the 1940s. In the 1950s he left Holland for Paris. There he encountered the bohemian society of Saint-Germain-de-Prés. Marked by the bitter post-war atmosphere these young people spent their days in bars, living on alcohol and drugs. At the suggestion of Edward Steichen, whom van der Elsken met in Paris, he turned his photographs into a photographic novel. ‘Love on the Left Bank’ instantly made him world famous.
Ed van der Elsken’s work is highly subjective, portraying striking individuals he encountered on his travels, documenting his own life and that of his surrounding. His approach was confrontational, embracing the bright as well as the darker sides of human life. The unconventional technique and the gritty snapshot-like quality of his work have been of great importance in the development of contemporary photography.
Ed van der Elsken’s work remains to be widely shown at contemporary art museums throughout the world. Recent solo- and group shows were held at the Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo (2015), Museum Boerhaave, Leiden (2014), Stadsarchief Amsterdam (2014), Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam (2010), Foam, Amsterdam (2005), The Metropolitan Museum, Tokyo (2003), The Palazzina di Giardini, Modena (2002) and many others.
He is highly acclaimed for his characteristic publications, the most memorable being ‘Love on the Left Bank’ (1956), ‘Bagara’ (1957), ‘Jazz’ (1959), ‘Sweet Life’ (1966), ‘Eye Love You’ (1977), ‘Amsterdam!’ (1979) and ‘Once Upon a Time’ (1981)