“TO TOUCH THE ESSENCE OF THE THING SEEN”
VAN DER KEUKEN, Joan. Achter Glas [Behind the Window]. Amsterdam: C. De Boer Jr. Hilversum, 1961. Large quarto, original stiff photographic wrappers. $1500.
First edition in softcover, scarce second work by van der Keuken, the Dutch photographer and filmmaker whose photobook vividly challenged a nation’s postwar optimism and asserted the “new form of the ‘photonovel” (Parr & Badger), with 94 black-and-white photogravures.
Joan van der Keuken was only 17 when he published his first photobook Wir Zijn 17 (We are 17, 1955). Two years later, while studying filmmaking in Paris, he followed with Achter Glas (Behind the Window), a photobook whose “brooding existentialist portraits” of Dutch youth clashed with “Holland’s postwar optimism” and substantially altered the nation’s iconic self-image (ArtForum). Van der Keuken’s work was revolutionary in its “treatment of a section of society… that was beginning to be regarded as a class apart…. [His] foray into the new form of the ‘photonovel… became a model for other books examining the same phenomenon” (Parr & Badger I:244). Further it is here, in Achter Glas, that the symbol of the window emerges as central motif in van der Keuken’s work, becoming an expression of simultaneous intimacy and isolation, as if windows “enabled him to give form to the paradox of vision, this ontological inability to touch the essence of the thing seen” (Lucid Eye). In Achter Glas we find “a physical and psychological proximity [that] lies at the heart of van der Keuken’s style,” present throughout his career as a photographer and filmmaker (ArtForum). Scarce first softcover edition, preceded by 1957 first editon. Text in Dutch by Remco Campert.
Images quite clean and fresh; slight soiling, tiny creases to bright photographic wrappers. Near-fine condition.