It all started in Paris for Dutch photographer Ed van der Elsken, the photographer of the subcultures of the 70's. He was employed by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, and Ernst Haas to be their darkroom printer in Magnum Agency. He was highly influenced by his fellow photographer and then-life partner Ata Kando, a Hungarian documentarian of the Amazon forests.
Elsken's most famous series "Love on the Left bank" was a photo book with a story. It was presented as a work of fiction, following the tale of Manuel who fell in love with the beautiful Ann (played by Vali Myers). Ann hung out in various bars and jazz cellars, often surrounded by men. The fictitious Ann has a girlfriend named Geri.
"Love on the Left Bank" is not just a tale of unrequited love, but also a sublime reportage of rebellious youth culture, particularly the beatnik. The Beatnik was a movement which began with Jack Kerouac's phrase, "Beat Generation", which referred to his social circle of underground, nonconformist youth in New York. The Beats era was a time of hustling, thievery, consumption, and art. Elsken used black and white film, combining various formats -- from 35mm, 3:2 format, 35mm, and 6x6.
Catch the show Ed van der Elsken Through the Eyes of Jan de Bont opening at the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam, March 8 to June 3.
Images are from the press kit.