Looking for Love on the Left Bank

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The Eyes Publishing, 2017. Second edition.
Hardcover, 112 pp., b/w and color illustrated throughout, 194 x 270 mm. Photographs by Ed van der Elsken. Text by Tamara Berghmans, Markus Schaden (English, French). Design by Magali Peretti.

Ed van der Elsken arrived in Paris in 1950, where he met his “soul mates” in a group of bohemians from Saint-Germain-des-Prés. In the manner of a diary, he photographed each of their movements, particularly those of the beautiful redheaded Vali Myers.

His photographic story mixes fiction and reality, instituting a new genre of photo book, the photo novel. The reconstruc- tion of the process of making this book from previously unpublished documents – contact sheets, dummies, sketches, colour prints, annotated maps of Paris – reveals not only the nihilistic state of mind of youth bathed in a post-war existentialist climate, but also the cinematographic character of the layout.

From all these documents was drawn a fiction superimposed on Van der Elsken’s initial narrative developed in Love on the Left Bank. This visual narrative is accompanied by a text by Tamara Berghmans, curator at the FoMu in Antwerp and author of a dissertation on the book.


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