About Bertien van Manen
Photo: Pieter Henket

About Bertien van Manen

Internationally acclaimed photographer Bertien van Manen (b. The Hague, 1942) is considered to be one of the modernisers of documentary photography.

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She started out as a fashion photographer after studying French language and literature. Inspired by Robert Frank’s ‘The Americans’, she applied herself to more engaging forms of photography and travelled the world. She spent time in China, the former Soviet Union and the Appalachians in America, working on major projects.

Initially, Van Manen received commissions for her reportages, but she quickly developed a career as an independent photographer. Bertien van Manen mainly photographs people in everyday situations, in areas where political and social changes are taking place. Her photographs are not about historical events, but about the prolonged encounter, closeness to those portrayed and the capture of everyday life.

A characteristic of Van Manen's work is that she manages to get close to her subject. Instead of travelling up and down to a place, she immerses herself in the local culture and lives with the people whose lives she documents.

Besides photographing in the UK, the US and Russia, Van Manen has also photographed in China, Hungary and former Soviet republics, among others.

Her work has been exhibited worldwide in museums including Museum of Modern Art in New York, Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, FOAM Amsterdam, FoMu Antwerp and Fotomuseum Winterthur.

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Bertien van Manen with her first camera.

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Bertien van Manen. Photo: Pieter Henket