Ed van der Elsken — La vie folle

Exhibition

Photography

Ed van der Elsken
La vie folle

Ends in 5 days: June 13 → September 24, 2017

Ed van der Elsken (1925-1990) is a unique figure in Dutch 20th-century documentary cinema and photography. As a photographer, his preferred subject was the street, and in cities like Paris, Amsterdam, Hong Kong or Tokyo, he enjoyed ‘hunting’ for subjects. Often qualified as a “photographer of marginal figures”, he sought in reality an aesthetic form, a visual authenticity, devoid of artifice, a beauty that was sometimes openly sensual, at times even erotic. Ed van der Elsken was fascinated by these proud figures, full of life and vitality.

The exhibition at the Jeu de Paume presents a large selection of some of his most iconic images: shots of Paris from the 1950s, figures photographed on his numerous travels or in his native Amsterdam from the 1960s onwards, as well as his books, and excerpts from his films and slide shows, particularly Eye Love You and Tokyo Symphony.

Van der Elsken photographs and films his subjects in situations that are often theatrical, and he behaves like a director, engaging in conversation with the people he photographs. He likes to be provocative and encourages his subjects to exaggerate or accentuate certain personality traits he detects in them. In addition to his theatrical, extravagant photography, Van der Elsken has also produced a large number of understated and moving images, revelatory of his poetic nature, his innate sense of solidarity with others, and his profound empathy for all living creatures.