“The rebellious period of the 60s left a strong mark on the book which assembles beautiful portraits of reckless young people but also highlights the architecture and even documents demolition of the buildings in the old city centre.”
Amsterdam was a turbulent city during the 1960s. The rebellious need for boundless freedom infused by a strong desire of change led to the city becoming the unofficial European capital of hippies. Even the most famous and desired by everyone hippies like John Lennon and Yoko Ono held the two-week-long Bed-Ins for Peace against the Vietnam War in 1969 at Hilton Amsterdam.
However, rebellious young people weren’t completely carried away by the magic world of marijuana and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Activism that began at the grassroots level soon took a violent turn of riots and squatting in protest against the shortage of housing in the city.
And Ed van der Elsken (1925-1990) was the photographer who has captured this rebellion just the way it was - crude, uncontrollable and erratic. His contrasted black-and-white photos from the book Amsterdam! capture the city and its inhabitants in all their guises. This book is a selection of the best images of Amsterdam, his exciting and tempestuous hometown.
However, his photographs not only depict the devil-may-care 60s, but also atmospheric and cosy 50s with kids playing outside during long snowy winters and postmen delivering mail on their old bicycles. As always, delightfully unpolished and accompanied by Van der Elsken’s scribbled notes, these images aren't just some pretty sights of the canals and tulips. They are confronting, raw, but always very honest and touching. Van Der Elsken worked a lot in his neighbourhood on Koningsstraat, embracing the areas of Nieuwmarkt, Zeedijk and Waterlooplein.
The rebellious period of the 60s left a strong mark on the book which assembles beautiful portraits of reckless young people but also highlights the architecture and even documents demolition of the buildings in the old city centre.
If you are one of Van Der Elsken's fan, do not forget to check the exhibition 'Lust for Life - Ed van Der Elsken in Colour' in The Nederlands Fotomuseum which is running until 6 October, 2019.
Fotomuseum has re-stored the colour work of photographer Ed van der Elsken from destruction. So, this summer we all can see the first retrospective of the photographer's work in colour which includes images that were never shown before.