The Big Flood of 1953 photographed > Aart Klein


Aart Klein's career as a photographer started in 1930 at the Polygoon photo press agency. He started out as an office clerk, but soon he began to take photographs himself. During the nine years Klein worked for Polygoon, he developed into one of the agency's most important photographers. The negatives from this period have unfortunately been lost.

During the last year of the German occupation, Klein took photographs for the Resistance, which were sent to England. After the Liberation, he set up the Particam photographer's collective, together with Maria Austria, Henk Jonker and Wim Zilver Rupe, which specialized in ballet, theatre and cabaret. Their monopoly position in this area owed a lot to the method developed by Aart Klein to make slow films more sensitive, so that during the performances they did not need to use flashlight.

After Aart Klein had established himself in 1956 as an independent photographer, he worked regularly for the newspaper Algemeen Handelsblad and made a large number of commissioned photo books.

Aart Klein often knew exactly which image he was looking for and he sometimes waited for hours to get that exact image. ‘I have got infinite patience. I can lie for hours in the grass to make that one picture. Often I know exactly what I want to photograph, the photo is already there in my head, but something is still missing. The image is too bare. I wait for that one flash of sunlight, that one bird flying overhead (?)’ (Haagse Post, 5 May 1990).

After the photographs were taken, an important part of the artistic process took place in the dark room. By developing the films and prints with plenty of contrast, his pictures obtained a pronounced graphical character. Aart Klein said about this: ‘My photography is called black-and-white photography, but in fact it is exactly the other way around: white-on-black. Because when you do nothing, you will get a black image. Not until you open the shutter, something will happen: you start to draw with white.’

The photographs in Delta. Stromenland in beweging (Delta. Land of Streams in Motion) are typical for Aart Klein: strong black and white contrasts and the predominance of lines and planes. Unlike the work of many photographers of his generation, people played a minor role in that of Aart Klein.

Examples from this collection The Big Flood of 1953 photographed

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