Heavily influenced by Weegee and stylistically in-step with Brassai's shadowed city streets, Nan Goldin's sexual curiosity, Diane Arbus's eye for the bizarre and Robert Frank's recognition of cultural identity, Van der Elsken explored seedy city underbellies and rugged backwoods with complete surrender to his environment. As a brazen populist and champion of the underdog, he traveled the world, observing idiosyncrasies with a combination of intimacy and drama. Most often, his subject was his beloved, "pre-renovation" Amsterdam, though the underground nightclubs of Jazz-era Paris, and the culturally foreign countries he visited did not go unnoticed. In 1956, Van der Elsken published his first b/w photo-book Love on the left bank, capturing the life of artists in Saint-Germain de Pres in Paris and many of the color photographs were originally published in Eye Love You (1977) and Hallo! (1978).
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