press release

The photographer and culinary journalist Philip Mechanicus was principally known for his portraits of writers, but also for his still-lifes and photographs of the city where he had been born, Amsterdam.

On July 30, 2005 he passed away at the age of 68. Mechanicus, originally a graphic designer, established himself as an independent photographer in 1959. He began with his portraits of writers toward the end of the 1970s, for the cultural supplement of the NRC Handelsblad, with the thought that it was better to photograph people who were famous than unknowns. Already in 1981 this work was to be seen in a presentation in the Museum, which also collected the photographer’s work. Mechanicus allowed the writers to pose obviously, which was quite unusual in that time. “You’re supposed to hide in the wastebasket and take a photo of a person secretly, while they are peeling potatoes, or picking their nose,’ he once commented in an interview. Mechanicus recorded almost all Dutch writers on the light-sensitive plate. At the end of October this publisher will be bringing out the book De laatset keuze uit het fotografisch woordenboek van Philip Mechanicus, on which the photographer kept working during his long illness.

The book will be launched on October 20 in Stedelijk Museum CS. To mark the occasion there will also be a small exhibition of his portraits. At the end of July the Philip Mechanicus Foundation was established to give lasting recognition to his photographic oeuvre. His negative archive has been housed with the Maria Austria Institute in Amsterdam.


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Philip Mechanicus