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The Quick and the Dead

A work made of gelatin silver print.

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  • A work made of gelatin silver print.




Ed Van der Elsken
Dutch, 1925–1990

About this artwork

The Dutch photographer Ed van der Elsken arrived in Paris in the years following World War II and joined the circle of radical avant–gardes led by Marxist theorist Guy Debord. He meandered with his camera through the jazz bars, cafés, and restaurants of Saint–Germain–des–Prés, producing a series of photographs that captured the rebellious youth culture of that time, later published as the book Love on the Left Bank. Shot in quick succession, these two street views show police dispersing a crowd of demonstrators and employ an aerial perspective that contrasts starkly with the casual intimacy found in most of Elsken’s images. Yet they reflect a parallel concern with the state of postwar French society, which he indicted as “bourgeois, individualistic, decadent, rotten and deadly … with nothing to offer its young people.”


Currently Off View


Photography and Media


Ed Van Der Elsken


The Quick and the Dead


Netherlands (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1950–1955


Gelatin silver print


29.4 × 29.8 cm (11 5/8 × 11 3/4 in.)

Credit Line

Peabody Fund

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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