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At the end of the 1990s, an inventory was taken of all the photographic material hidden in the collection of what was then the Netherlands Architecture Institute, today Het Nieuwe Instituut. The photographs were used by architects for publications, education and lectures, and were sometimes the bearers of new trends and ideologies. Drawing together prints and negatives from the different photographic archives allowed new insights into their historical and documentary value to emerge.


Around 1950 a new generation of photographers made its appearance. One of these was the architectural photographer J. Versnel. During the war years Versnel had trained at the Graphic Design School in Amsterdam where he had been taught by Eilers, and at the Arts and Crafts lnstitute where d'Oliviera had instructed him in photography. Thereafter he worked for a whiIe as assistant to the doctor/photographer N. Jesse who brought him into contact with architects like G. and J. Rietveld. Once admitted into this circle Versnel soon became a highly successful architectural photographer. Beginning in 1950, he worked with innumerable architects and interior designers who included Oud, the two Rietvelds, H. Salomonson and C. de Vries. He felt a natural empathy with the work of these modern architects and in his photographs he tried to capture the essence of the spaces they created. From 1952 onwards he received regular photographic commissions from the Stichting Goed Wonen which he carried out with the help of his sometime assistant, A. Plas.

During the 1960s and 1970s Dutch society underwent a process of democratization. In architecture this led to greater attention to human needs in the design of buildings. Architects like J. Bakema, A. van Eyck, H. Haan and H. Hertzberger believed in a humane architecture full of emotional expression. From 1959 to 1963 these architects formed the editorial board of the journal Forum in which the image, including the photographic image, played a crucial role. Photos by V. Cornelius, who was Haan's photographer on his travels through Africa, were interspersed with photographs of public squares in Rome, streetscapes and snapshots of a given situation. Most of these photos contained people. The new architectural ideas were also reflected in photography, gradually giving rise to a more documentary style of architectural photography in which sharpness and clarity were replaced by coarse-grained shots. Apart from Cornelius, W. Diepraam and C. Wessing excelled in this type of photography. Forum became a new podium tor trendsetting architectural photography.

In the 1980s and 1990s, formalism returned to both architecture and photography. Techniques were unashamedly borrowed from advertising photography and high-quality colour photography and printing techniques gradually displaced the black-and-white image. In these years the new architecture was displayed in a fantastic kaleidoscope of colours. The experience of the architectural photograph changed along with developments in photographic technology. However, the final years of the twentieth century have ushered in yet another change of course. Human beings and their 'clutter' are no langer taboo in photographs. Compared with the 1980s and early 1990s, architecture is now less isolated from human existence.