Cuba by Ed van der Elsken, 1967

In 1956, Ed van der Elsken won immediate praise for his first book, Love on the Left Bank, a frank semi-fictional picture narrative on the lives of young bohemians in post-war Paris. Further books, always on street photography followed. After five years working as a film-maker, he returned to photography in 1967, shooting regular travel features for Avenue magazine.

Avenue was first published on November 1, 1965 and continued until April 1994. The first lifestyle glossy to bring ‘modern life’ to Dutch readers, Avenue sold 125,000 copies a month at its peak and featured renowned authors. Travel reports by literary writers appeared since the beginning of Avenue, such as articles by Harry Mulisch and Bertus Aafjes, which were on the successive cover texts of April and May 1967. Renate Rubinstein’s pieces on Jordan, Lebanon and Israel caused controversy (they were collected in Jew in Arabia, Goi in Israel). The articles were often accompanied by unconventional and daring photography.

Until 1976, van der Elsken travelled and photographed for the magazine. His story on Cuba – one of his earliest for Avenue – demonstrated the approach for which he is best known: a depiction of street style, shot with a rhythm and pace learned from cinema vérite with magazine pages used like a movie storyboard combining close-ups, panoramas, and candid asides. Eighteen pages of colour photographs (and 2 pages in B&W) appeared in December 1967 issue.

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One thought on “Cuba by Ed van der Elsken, 1967

  1. Thanks for showing ‘Avenue’ magazine again – my Dutch youth is coming back.

    Holland has a rich tradition of using photographs (and photographers) in provocative and elegant ways. Still does. It is not uncommon for a Dutch paper (literally, on paper) to fill a full-page with 1 photograph.

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