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Never-published Ed van der Elsken photo book
Around 1960, Ed van der Elsken (1925-1990) put together a photobook on the theme of feest (feast). Drawing from both old and new work, he produced a design that is a sequence of festive occasions: fun, celebration, dancing, music, fairs, carnivals, excitement and euphoria, but also drunkenness and exhaustion in the wee hours. He combined the individual photographs into sparkling and rhythmical pairings, so that a genuine sense of joy emanates from the pages. At the time, for reasons unknown, the design was left on the shelf. The design for feest was one of the great surprises in Van der Elsken legacy, which was acquired by the Rijksmuseum and the Nederlands Fotomuseum in 2019. Now, sixty years after the photographer worked on the design with scissors and tape, this lively book is being published after all, in the format he had in mind.
Taco Dibbits, director of the Rijksmuseum: 'Ed van der Elsken gained international renown thanks in particular to his photo books. This makes the discovery of feest all the more remarkable. Feest captures an era, from the 1950s to the early 60s. You see extremes: from funfairs to state visits, from smiles to tears. You see people connecting and people letting go. Most of all, you see what it is that brings people together'.