Love on the Left Bank, appeared in 1956 it was an instant success and made a name for photographer Ed van der Elsken. In the book he tells the story of his ramblings in Paris, where he lived for a number of years. He photographed everything he encountered there, and over a long period observed the life of a group of hipsters, beatniks and bohemians, idiosyncratic young people like the artist Vali Meyers.

Van Der Elksen arranged his photographs of them into a fictional love story, for which he himself wrote the texts. In cooperation with Jurriaan Schrofer he designed the book as a photographic novel, a revolutionary design at the time.

This is an excerpt from the original 1956 English-language edition of Love on the Left Bank: “A story in photographs about Paris – the Paris of the young men and girls who haunt the Left Bank. They dine on half a loaf, smoke hashish, sleep in parked cars or on benches under the plane trees, sometimes borrowing a hotel room from a luckier friend to shelter their love. Some of them write, or paint, or dance. Ed van der Elsken, a young Dutch photographer, stalked his prey for many months along the boulevards, in the cafés, and under the shadow of prison walls. Whatever may happen in real life to Ann and her Mexican lover, their strange youth will be preserved ‘alive’ in this book for many years.”

Artist, dancer, shamaness, muse and powerful creatrix, Vali inspired many people, in addition to photographer Ed van der Elsken, Tennessee Williams based the character Carol on her in his play “Orpheus Descending”.

Vali loved poetry, animals and cages. She had a cage in her home; but it was not for her animals, of which, she had more than 25 dogs, as well as pigs, rabbits, goats, foxes and field mice. She considered the ribcage a cage that protects the heart, and she never had any illusions about freedom.