Ed van der Elsken “Love on the Left Bank”

Taka Ishii Gallery Photography/Film

poster for Ed van der Elsken “Love on the Left Bank”
[Image: Ed van der Elsken "Paris" 1951/1980, Gelatin silver print, Image size:27 x 26 cm, Paper size:46 x 33 cm © Nederlands Fotomuseum / Courtesy of Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam]

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Taka Ishii Gallery is pleased to present “Love on the Left Bank,” a solo exhibition of photographs by street photography pioneer and one of 20th century’s most important documentary photographers, Ed van der Elsken. Held in collaboration with Annet Gelink Gallery (Amsterdam), the exhibition is comprised of 15 images included in Elsken’s first book of the same title first published in 1956 and printed by Elsken in the 1970s and 1980s.
Elsken was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1925 and began shooting photographs after World War II, when his father gave him a 9 x 12 camera. He proceeded to travel from city to city, shooting and working as a freelance photographer. Struggling from a postwar sense of emptiness and caught between the cultural poverty of the reconstruction period and hunger for a new society and culture, Elsken hitchhiked to Paris in 1950. At the time, in Paris young bohemians from various countries gathered on the left bank of the Seine in Saint-Germain-des-Prés and lived an aimless and rough life. Living under the same roof as these young bohemians, Elsken was strongly drawn to the raffish, existentialist, and nihilistic youth culture he saw there and continued to shoot on the Left Bank for several years. The resulting images were noticed by Edward Steichen, then Director of the Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, while in Paris to conduct research for the “The Family of Man” (1955) exhibition. Under Steichen’s advice, Elsken edited the photographs into Love on the Left Bank (1956), which told a story of a young Mexican man, a stand-in for Elsken himself, and his unrequited love for Ann, who spends her life in the cafés on the Left Bank.
The book strongly influenced giants of postwar Japanese photography such as Eikoh Hosoe, Kishin Shinoyama, and Nobuyoshi Araki. Elsken’s strong, crisp prints with pure blacks were made with a uniquely developed method. Elsken’s printing technique is said to have amazed Hosoe when he provided Elsken with a darkroom in Japan during a 1975 visit. Elsken’s influence on the Japanese photography world was immense, and Japan became an important photographic subject for him. His images of Japan can be seen in Sweet Life, Japan 1959-1960 (1987), and De ontdekking van Japan [The Discovery of Japan] (1988).

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from March 19, 2015 to May 02, 2015

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