“CAPTURING THAT MOMENT WHEN CHILDHOOD ENDS”: SCARCE FIRST EDITION OF VAN DER KEUKEN’S WIJ ZIJN 17, 1955
VAN DER KEUKEN, Joan. Wij zijn 17 [We are 17]. Bussum, [Netherlands]: C.A.J. van Dishoeck, . Slim octavo, original stiff photographic wrappers. $1700.
First edition, the first photobook by renowned photographer and filmmaker Van der Keuken, with 30 black-and-white “innovative” halftones of Dutch youth about to “take a deep breath and step out into the world” (Parr & Badger).
“In 1955, the 17-year-old Joan van der Keuken [1938-2001] caused a stir in Dutch publishing with his book Wij zijn 17 (We Are 17)… Innovative… in its treatment of a section of society… the 30 pictures in Wij zijn 17 are tellingly simple. Students lounge around in their rooms, doing nothing very much, as if waiting for their adult lives to begin. The mood is uncertain, capturing that moment when childhood ends and youth must take a deep breath and step out into the world… Van der Keuken’s foray into the new form of the ‘photonovel… became a model for other books examining the same phenomenon” (Parr & Badger II:244). Yet the book proved controversial. Van der Keuken’s “brooding, existentialist portraits of his classmates in Wij zijn 17 clashed so much with Holland’s postwar optimism that a counter album, We are Also 17, soon appeared” (ArtForum). Van der Keuken went on to become “arguably Europe’s most important documentary filmmaker” (New York Times). Scarce first edition; text in Dutch.
Images quite fresh; lightest edge-wear to fragile photographic wrappers. A key European photobook, near-fine.