Ed Van Der Elsken / Love On The Left Bank (1954)




“A story in photographs about Paris – the Paris of the young men and girls who haunt the Left Bank. They dine on half a loaf, smoke hashish, sleep in parked cars or on benches under the plane trees, sometimes borrowing a hotel room from a luckier friend to shelter their love. Some of them write, or paint, or dance.
Ed van der Elsken, a young Dutch photographer, stalked his prey for many months along the boulevards, in the cafés and under the shadow of prison walls. Whatever may happen in real life to Ann and her Mexican lover, their strange youth will be preserved ‘alive’ in this book for many years.”


Ed Van Der Elsken, Love on the Left Bank

Ann is actually the legendary bohemian figure Vali Myers, a self-exiled Australian artist, who was friends with Cocteau and Genet, and, by way of van der Elsken's evocative portraits of her, later became a muse for the teenage Patti Smith. When the two eventually met in New York in the early 1970s, Myers tattooed a lightning bolt on Smith's knee, while Smith described her as "the supreme beatnik chick – thick red hair and big black eyes, black boatneck sweaters and trench coats".


In one series of fly-on-the-wall photographs, van der Elsken captures Jean Michel teaching a girl to "smoke hashish in the right way … the cigarette not held in the mouth, the smoke inhaled together with air from the cupped hands". Jean Michel Mension would later become one of the main protagonists of the 1968 student uprising, a member of the Letterist International, to which the legendary Situationist activist and thinker, Guy Debord, also belonged. Legend has it that the back of Debord's head can be seen in one of the many bar scenes in the book.                 >  (...)
Ed Van Der Elsken, Love On The Left Bank (1954)
Ed Van Der Elsken, Love On The Left Bank (1954)
Ed Van Der Elsken, Love On The Left Bank (1954)
Ed Van Der Elsken,Vali Myers - Love On The Left Bank (1954)
Ed Van Der Elsken, Love On The Left Bank (1954)
Ed Van Der Elsken, Love On The Left Bank (1954)
Ed Van Der Elsken, Love On The Left Bank (1954)
Ed Van Der Elsken, Love On The Left Bank (1954)
Vali Myers, who plays Ann, was a dancer and artist, who arrived in Paris in 1949.

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