Love and Other Stories

van der Elsken Undresses Three Countries

Teenagers Amsterdam 1962. Copyright Ed van der Elsken, courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.

BY: Jes Zurell

Ed van der Elsken photographed with a conviction that exposed the vulnerabilities of his subjects like cracks on the painted eyes of dolls. During the ‘50s and ‘60s, he indulged in the cultures of Amsterdam, Paris, Tokyo and Osaka and sucked the cities dry of inspiration. Now through May 5, 2018, his work is on display in “Love and Other Stories” at Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York. The show’s name is a nod to his book, Love on the Left Bank, 1954, which disrupted the documentary photography scene like a nip slip in church.

In van der Elsken’s work, we see an hourglass angel on a street corner in Amsterdam, wiggling her perks into place.

A man with pre-Raphaelite lips sports an unbuttoned shirt and brandishes the kind of ripe cheekbones you want to press your lips around like a plum, like a French Jim Morrison.

Tokyo geishas and starched businessmen provoke us to unravel the seam binding tradition and progress and see the soft places underneath. Facets of Osaka are freshly plagued by fast food chains, blemishing an otherwise polished face.

Et bien sur, there are Parisians doing what they do best: making love to the cool end of a cigarette and maintaining a pervasive disinterest in strangers. Throughout his body of work, all limbs point in the same direction: forward, towards pleasure, with neither shame nor hesitation. We invite you to follow his lead.

 

Vali Myers Au Mabillon Blvd St Germain, Paris 1951
Vali Myers Au Mabillon Blvd St Germain, Paris 1951. Copyright Ed van der Elsken, courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.

 

Paris 1950. Ed van der Elsken
Paris 1950. Copyright Ed van der Elsken, courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.

 

Untitled Date Unknown. Ed van der Elsken
Copyright Ed van der Elsken, courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.

 

Amsterdam c.1956. Ed van der Elsken
Amsterdam c.1956. Copyright Ed van der Elsken, courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.

 

In de Uitgaansbuurt Shibuya Tokyo 1987. Ed van der Elsken
In de Uitgaansbuurt Shibuya Tokyo 1987. Copyright Ed van der Elsken, courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.

 

Damplatz Amsterdam 1966. Ed van der Elsken
Damplatz Amsterdam 1966. Copyright Ed van der Elsken, courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.

 

Audience at a Concert of Ella Fitzgerald 1957. rald 1957. Copyright
Audience at a Concert of Ella Fitzgerald 1957. Copyright Ed van der Elsken, courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.

 

Gangsters Osaka Japan 1960. Ed van der Elsken
Gangsters Osaka Japan 1960. Copyright Ed van der Elsken, courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.

 

Vali Myers in Saint Germain des Pres. Paris 1951.
Vali Myers in Saint Germain des Pres. Paris 1951. Copyright Ed van der Elsken, courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.

 

Teenagers Amsterdam 1962. Ed van der Elsken
Teenagers Amsterdam 1962. Copyright Ed van der Elsken, courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.