The Keith de Lellis Gallery presents Mid-Century. Vintage Photographs by Dutch Artists, the first exhibition dedicated to Dutch photography after World War II presented in New York City. The show includes 52 pictures by 13 photographers all originally in the Norman Hall Collection, the picture editor of the British Journal of Photography Annual and The International Photography Annual. The pictures on view have been made by photographers who are now considered to be some of the most important European photographers of these decades: Joost Guntenaar, Paul Huf, Henk Jonker, Aart Klein, J.M. Moerkerk, Cas Oorthuys, Eddy Posthuma de Boer, Sanne Sannes, Oscar van Alphen, Ed van der Elsken, Johan van der Keuken, Wim van der Linden, and Koen Wessing.
As any photographer of the fifties and sixties, the Dutch practiced many kinds of photography: from the staged studio pictures to street views and reportage made abroad for magazines. The current exhibition presents both the pictures produced for magazine layout as well as personal works.
Often trained by Dutch masters, these photographers were influenced by the international contemporary practices: the Magnum Agency and Henri Cartier-Bresson, the German photo avant-garde fotoform and Christer Strömholm, and later William Klein. Like all photo-journalists, they are interested in social documentary and the everyday life in the streets. Like Stromhölm, some focused on the sadness that emerged from this period, emphasized by the white-and-black contrast of the prints.
These photographers made exhibitions and published books on cities that illustrate the post-war economic boom: Amsterdam (Wim van der Linden, The Other Amsterdam, 1962) or Paris (Johan van der Keuken, Paris Mortel, 1963). They showed an impoverished Europe affected by the war when the rest of the world seemed more insulated from human tragedy.
Far from being isolated, the Dutch photographers were linked to the Dutch art avant-gardes (Fluxus, Cobra) and fluctuated between photo and film (Johan van der Keuken, Wim van der Linden, Sanne Sannes)
Their works have been presented in the fifties in two major shows at MoMA – Postwar European Photography in 1953 and Family of Man in 1955 – and in the three Subjektive Fotografie exhibitions which traveled throughout the world.
Today they are represented in the most important Dutch institutions dedicated to photography: the Nederlands Fotomuseum (Ed van der Elsken, Aart Klein and Cas Oorthuys archives), the Rijsksmuseum Amsterdam (Paul Huf, Susan Sannes) and the Foam.