Ed van der Elsken


Ed van der Elsken (1925 -1990), 'enfant terrible' of Dutch  photography, started to photograph at the end of the 1940s. In the 1950s he left Holland for Paris. There he photographed the bohemian society of Saint-Germain-de-Prés. He turned his photographs into a photographic novel. 'Love on the Left  Bank' which instantly made him world famous.
Van der Elsken was married to the photographer Ata Kando for one year (1954-1955). With his second wife, Gerda van der Veen he traveled around the globe while photographing.
In 1959, he came to Japan for the first time and built close relationships with Eikoh Hosoe and other members of the influential photographers’ group VIVO. His influence on the Japanese photography world was immense. Japan was also an important photographic subject for Elsken, who visited Japan several times again from 1984-1988, where he had a large exhibition in Tokyo. The Dutch Ministry of Culture awarded him a grant in 1987 to complete a book on Japan. ‘De Ontdekking van Japan’ was published in 1988. On returning from a trip to Korea which was meant to result in a book about that country, Van der Elsken heard that he was suffering from terminal cancer.
Van der Elsken's work is highly subjective. 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.