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Bertien Van Manen

Bertien van Manen (1935-2024) started her career in 1975, at the age of forty, as a fashion photographer. Inspired by Robert Frank’s The Americans, she turned to documentary photography.

Fluent in Russian, she was one of the first documentary photographers to enter the former Soviet Union after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Her photographs made during five years traveling the former Soviet Union, are documented in the books Hundred Summers Hundred Winters (1994) and Let’s sit down before we go (2011).

Van Manen traveled and documented much of the world, including Eastern Europe, the Western Sahara and the Appalachians. Her travels trough China are captured in the book East Wind West Wind (2001).

Van Manen was raised in Heerlen, The Netherlands, where her father was an engineer in the State coal mines. She felt closely connected to the coal miners, and later documented mine workers in different places, including Sheffield, Siberia and the Appalachians.

Bertien van Manen’s photographs have been exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and the Fotomuseum Winterthur, among others, and is held in major public collections.