Cas Oorthuys and Ed van der Elsken, Vuur aan zee (1958), pp. 34-35
text: Paul Rodenko
photography: Paul Huf, Ata Kando, Violette Cornelius, Cas Oorthuys and Ed van der Elsken
design: Jurriaan Schrofer
corporate: De Koninklijke Nederlandsche Hoogovens en Staalfabrieken NV, IJmuiden
copyright: Nederlands Fotoarchief (nfa), Rotterdam

Life was work; work was life
The corporate photo book in modern Holland

In this exhibition, curated by art historian Dr. Mirelle Thijsen, striking photographs from corporate photo books present a picture of Holland emerging as an industrialised nation and modernised society. Photographers have shaped visual culture to a strong extent in modern post-war society. This is particularly the case in the image conveyed of workers and employers in corporate photo books. These books, which corporations used as PR-instruments, are the result of a unique collaboration between photographers, graphic designers and writers / poets on the one hand, and captains of leading industries on the other. It is partly due to this genre that photographers were able to make a living and create an oeuvre. What is more, it is because these albums were such prestigious assignments that the genre contributed to the reputations of photographers like Carel Blazer, Martien Coppens, Violette Cornelius, Ed van der Elsken, Paul Huf, Nico Jesse, Cas Oorthuys and Ad Windig. A number of those photographers also played a pioneering role in documentary photography and in new professional associations of photographers, notably the "Vereniging van Beoefenaars der gebonden Kunsten in de Federatie" (GKf, Association of practitioners of the applied arts).

In this exhibition five themes are highlighted:


These themes document how the rhetoric of post-war reconstruction gradually made way for the depiction of the phenomenon of mass society. Humanist photography in the manner of the celebrated exhibition "The Family of Man" (1955) influenced the imagery in Dutch corporate photo books. The exhibition shows fifty examples from the heyday of the genre, the period from 1945 to 1965. A selection of alternatives for the corporate photo book depicts the demise of some industries and modern business cultures. In an 18-minute audio-visual production the design and photography from six corporate photo books are related to contemporary jazz music and a selection of promotional, industrial and artistic films about major corporations that commissioned these photo books. Experimental poets and renowned writers committed themselves to copy writing for the genre. Citations are projected on the exhibition walls.

Guest curator Dr. M. Thijsen compiled the exhibition "Life was work; work was life" in association with museum colleague D. van de Vrie. Mirelle Thijsen defenden het dissertation on Dutch corporate photo books (1945-1965) in 2000 and is founder of International Photografy Research (IPhoR) in Amsterdam. Dingenus van de Vrie is a graduate of AKI Enschede and is assistant-curator at the department of prints and drawings at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.

The publication: "Het bedrijfsfotoboek 1945-1965.Professionalisering van fotografen in het moderne Nederland" (The corporate photo book 1945-1965. The professionalization of photographers in the Netherlands) appears concurrently with the exhibition and is published by Uitgeverij 010, Rotterdam. This is the first publication in a new series entitled Beeldcultuur in Nederland (Visual culture in the Netherlands), edited by Professor Dr. Bram Kempers and Dr. Adi Martis, and initiated by the Prins Bernhard Cultural Fund.

Ausstellungsdauer: 6.9 - 3.11.2002
Oeffnungszeiten: Di-Sa 10 - 17 Uhr
So und Feiertage 11 - 17 Uhr

The Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum
Museumpark 18-20
NL-3015 CX Rotterdam
Telefon +31 10 441 94 71