Utrecht old comes to life in stunning photo exhibition!

The Utrecht Archives recently opened the exhibition, ‘Utrecht in beeld’ with over 120 re-printed photographs of the Utrecht photographer FF van der Werf. A special exhibition which an almost intimate picture of daily life in the cathedral city between the 30s and 60s of last century. Both the city and its inhabitants are portrayed in beautiful atmospheres and artistic photos. A must see and certainly not just for Utrechters.

The Utrecht Archives located at the Hamburgerstraat brings yet another wonderful exhibition about life in Utrecht in the past. Around the Tour de France, which took place start last summer, the special exhibition ‘Utrecht Cycling City’ showed – over 140 years of bicycle culture in Utrecht. The latest exhibition, ‘Utrecht in beeld’ opened Thursday, November 19th, at the Utrechts Archives. This photo exhibition shows the work of the Utrecht photographer Franz Ferdinand van der Werf (1903 – 1984). Van der Werf settled in 1930 as a freelance photographer in Utrecht, assisted by his wife, he took a lot of press photography for local news media of that time. He also worked for other newspapers and magazines and many of his pictures have been awarded with prizes. He is one of to the famous postwar, Utrecht photographers. In 1962 he stopped working.

Van der Werf had an eye for beautiful light situations, comic scenes and interesting personalities. His photo’s of the liberation and the entry of the Allies in Utrecht in 1945 are well known, but he also photographed mayors, professors and bishops. As an artistic photographer he exhibited his work regularly in his studio and he pubished postcards. Van der Werf controlled the technique of his craft well and was particularly adept at retouching negatives. He was a character in Utrecht, partly because of his engaging nature, his neat appearance and his ability to connect with people. During his retirement the the Utrechts nieuwsblad called him the ‘Magician with a 35 mm camera’. A large part of his work was donated to the archives of the municipality of Utrecht, now known as the Utrecht archive.

A visit to the exhibition in Utrecht image feels like a journey through time. Back to a time when Utrecht was for Utrechters and not subject to the metropolitan hypes that seem to take the city in 2015. Also much smaller – between 1930 and 1960 Utrecht grew from over 153000 to over 254000 people – and much more focused on local business than is currently the case. A time with more solidarity and therefore much simpler and more relaxed than the contemporary Utrecht. Also a time in which ‘modern life’ itself was visible. All that radiates in the beautiful, atmospheric photos of Van der Werf, they almost make you long for the times back then. For this reason the exhibition, which runs until May 21, 2016, is a must see and certainly not just for Utrechters. And … there is no entrance free.

Het Utrechts Archief | Hamburgerstraat 28 – Utrecht | opening hours: see here | T 030 – 2866611

Contribution by – Maurice Hengeveld – writer-editor-journalist.

Image from DUIC

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