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Bertien van Manen: Obituary

By 29th May 2024June 12th, 2024No Comments

Celebrated documentary photographer, Bertien van Manen (15th February 1935 – 26th May 2024) has died at the age of 89.


“I have to like the people I photograph. I need to feel an attraction, a fascination” – Bertien van Manen


Bertien’s career began in fashion photography, but a shift towards documentary work came in 1975, inspired by Robert Frank’s seminal work “The Americans.” This newfound passion led her to travel the world, capturing the essence of the people she met and befriended through her lens.

Fluency in Russian granted Bertien a unique opportunity. She was among the first documentary photographers to enter the former Soviet Union after the fall of the Iron Curtain, documenting a nation in transition. Her work transcended geographic boundaries. Her photographs explored themes of resilience, intimacy, and the human condition against the backdrop of dramatic landscapes, often dominated by water.

Her death leaves a void in the world of documentary photography. She will be remembered for her artistic vision, her unwavering curiosity about the world, and the deep connections she forged with her subjects.