Viewing Room Main Site
Skip to content
Ed van der Elsken

Audience at the concert of Benny Goodman in the village Blokker, 15 May, 1958

Ed van der Elsken (1925-1990) the 'enfant terrible' of Dutch photography,  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, people in a bitter post-war malaise.  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, which brought him instant fame.  His approach was confrontational, embracing the bright as well as the darker sides of life in gritty snapshot-like images.

Van der Elsken's work has been widely shown at contemporary art museums throughout the world. Recent solo- and group shows were held at the Museum Boerhaave, Leiden (2014);  Stadsarchief Amsterdam (2014); Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam (2010);  Foam, Amsterdam (2005);  The Metropolitan Museum, Tokyo (2003) and The Palazzina di Giardini, Modena (2002). He published numerous books including:  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).