zondag 7 januari 2007

Plem 1909-1959 Company Photography De Stijl Elffers Oorthuys Thijsen Parr

1909 PLEM 1959.
[Text L. Harpman, P.A. Becx (redactie); Bertus Aafjes, R. Franquinet (essay); E. L. Kramer (foreword); F. Houben (introduction); H. Gelissen (firm's history). Photography Cas Oorthuys Illustrations: P.A. Becx Layout Dick Elffers en Ben Dui
Maastricht / 1959 / 154 p. / cb. / 26x24cm / with dustjacket / 136 b&w photographs, 7 color, in opdracht, uit bedrijfsarchief en uit niet-particuliere archieven / documentaire foto's / directeursportretten, huishoudelijke apparatuur, landschap en stedenschoon en schakelinstallaties). - Ill 11 b&w photographs, 35 colo / NN / Firmenschrift, Festschrift / Photographie - Anthologie - Auftragsphotographie, commissioned photography - Nederland, Niederlande - 20. Jahrh. / Printed by Firma Boosten & Stols, Maastricht (boekdruk). - Opdrachtgever: NV Provinciale Limburgsche Electriciteits-Maatschappij PLEM (50-jarig bestaan). - Foto-typo-taal. De elektriciteitscentrale wordt metaforisch voorgesteld als een sprookjespaleis uit duizend-en-een-nacht. De foto is onderdeel van een grafisch totaalontwerp. Grafieken zijn in aparte katernen op andersoortig papier afgedrukt. De tekst is gezet uit de Grotesk, Gill en Goudy catalogue. Lit.: M. Bruinsma, L. Ros en R. Schröder, Een leest heeft drie voeten. Dick Elffers en de kunsten, Amsterdam 1989, p. 42-43.

Plem 1909-1959 by : Martin Parr & Gerry Badger in The Photobook : A History volume II
It is a characteristic of the Dutch photobook, as it is of the Japanese photobook, that design is an important element of the total package. One of the best designed examples of the period was produced for the utility company PLEM ( Provinciale Limburgsche Electriciteitsmaatschappij), the electricity-generating company in the south of Holland, and it is the book's lead designer Dick Elffers, who is the driving force behind the look of the volume, even tough the photographic roster includes such distinguished names in Dutch photography as Cas Oorthuys (Oorthuys) and Koen Lenarts.
With its plethora of design 'references', the book might even be considered a prototype of the postmodern photobook, although graphic design, like fashion, was always a matter of visual appropriation. The borrowing begins with the cover, where the letters 'PLEM' are arranged in exactly the same way as the letters 'CPDE' on the cover of Man Ray's Électricite' (1931; see pages 182-83).
Another important design feature is a grid pattern that relates to the De Stijl movement of the 1930's, which numbered amongst its exponents Piet Mondriaan and Gerrit Rietveld. De Stijl was noted for its rigorous geometry and use of primary colours, and this is echoed throughout PLEM. Most notably, its piece de resistance is a two-page panorama of a power station at night, in which the space is fractured and expanded by means of red and yellow overlaid shapes.

Cas Oorthuys (1908-1975)
As no other photographer, Cas Oorthuys has expressed the growing self-confidence of the Dutch in the period of post-war reconstruction. His photographs show the restoration of the industry, hard-working Holland on the road to a society with a booming economy, and the growth of tourism.
Just like many other photographers in the post-war years, he chose people as his major subject. Characteristic for Oorthuys, though, is that he has always tried to let the environment in which they live and work play a role in his photographs. Another striking feature is his strong sense for composition: his photographs are composed carefully within the square of frosted glass of his Rolleicord.
At the beginning of the thirties he was personally affected by the consequences of the economic depression when he was fired as architectural assistant by the municipality of Amsterdam. He started his career in photography as a communist labour photographer, working since 1936 as photo reporter for the social-democrat weekly Wij.
After the outbreak of the Second World War, Oorthuys tried to survive as a portrait photographer. He also forged identity cards and in the 'Winter of Starvation' of 1944/1945, he was a member of the group that later would become known as 'De Ondergedoken Camera' ('The Hidden Camera'). This group had come into being around Dolle Dinsdag ('Crazy Tuesday', 5 September 1944) intending to capture the Liberation. When this unexpectedly failed to occur, the group documented illegally the last year of the German occupation. In retrospect this photo material has come to define our view of the 'Winter of Starvation'.
After the Liberation, social commitment continued initially to be the focus point for Oorthuys. This is evident especially in his photo book Een staat in wording (A Nascent state, 1947), a plea for a peaceful solution for the Indonesian struggle for independence.
When his hopes turned out to be vain, his view on the role of photography changed. He was to use the medium of photography no longer as a political weapon, and started to photograph people mainly motivated by the aspect of human interest. Ideology was pushed into the background, but people continued to play a prominent role in his photographs.

Dick Elffers (Rotterdam,1910 - Amsterdam,1990) occupies a crucial position in the development of graphic design in the Netherlands in the 20th century. He was a talented, diversified artist whose activities varied from painting to architectural & exhibition design, large scale sculpture, tapestries, ceramics, photography and an extensive body of graphic design. After studying at the Art Academy in Rotterdam (1929-1933) he worked with Piet Zwart and Paul Schuitema; interrupted by the 2nd World War he established his own studio in Amsterdam in 1945. He retreated from the austere modernism of the thirties and began to use a painters approach for his imagery creating his own expressionist style. His famous poster "Weerbare Democratie" has become an icon for the changing approach to poster design in the Netherlands after the war and his numerous music and film images designed for the Holland Festival in the fifties and sixties, with their bold colours and inventive typography, exude a vitality which has never been duplicated since.
In 1949 Elffers was the first recipiant of the H.N.Werkman Prize awarded by the city of Amsterdam; he taught at the Academy of Art in Eindhoven in the seventies; he designed the Dutch memorial exhibition in the Staatsmuseum Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1980 and in Westerbork in 1983.

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