Love and Other Stories
van der Elsken Undresses Three Countries
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.