Erotic Photography by Sanne Sannes

Photography by Sanne Sannes

Today we offer a glimpse into the obscure work of forgotten Dutch photographer Sanne Sannes.  Sanne Sannes, (we know, his name sure has a special Dirk-Diggler kind of ring to it), was a tripped-out fashion- and art photographer who lived his short life hard and fast, petal to the metal.  Some consider his work ground breaking, ahead of it's time, others describe his oeuvre as a "diamond in the rough'.  You be the judge.

After almost four decades of obscurity, a unique collection from the oeuvre of the Dutch photographer Sanne Sannes (1937-1967) has come to light again thanks to renewed attention by the Laurence Miller Gallery in New York and the HUP Gallery in Amsterdam.

Sanne Sannes, during his brief photographic career in the sixties, became renown for his taste for the erotic, his fascination with women and seduction. His imagery recalls the atmosphere of the sixties, which acted as an impulse both for his models and for his own talent in photography.

After his untimely death at the age of 30 in a tragic car accident, with only an eight year photographic career of innovating art, Sanne Sannes oeuvre is still on par with internationally acclaimed Dutch photographers such as Gerard Fieret and Ed van der Elsken, who in the sixties defined Dutch black-and-white photography.

What's great to discover with these vintage prints is the amount of fun that Sanne Sannes had during the shooting, and even more so afterwards in the darkroom. He experimented with painting and scratching on his negatives. He superimposed multiple negatives to get some wild overlapping imagery. He exposed a print multiple times to get different burned-in effects. And he did a lot of handwork on the photos after he printed them. He was clearly in love with the medium of photography.

Jim Hughes, editor of Camera 35, wrote: “Sannes, a controversial Dutch photographer, did not make easy photographs. Certainly, he did not make pretty photographs. I’m not even sure he made photographs. He made explorations of people, of their outsides and their insides, and sent back picture postcards of their psyches.”

Sannes work is better known through his publications. One of his best known books was called Sex a Gogo. More provocative than most books of nudes in its day, it remains a fantastic period piece even today. It was his second book, published posthumously in 1969.

His first book, Oog om Oog (Eye for Eye) a notable work in the Dutch beeldroman (photonovel) tradition, had been published a few years earlier. Sex a Gogo was much more light hearted, a Pop-Art sexual manual, complete with psychedelic collages and cartoon speech balloons. It was heavily influenced by the many underground magazines that were a feature of the 1960s culture/scene.

Parr Badger wrote in The Photobook, A History, Vol. I: “The book’s montages were devised by its designer Walter Steevensz, who took over the project when Sannes died, and it is his vision as much as the photographer’s that is evidenced in this typically 1960s comedy of sexual mores. Yet however comical, Sex a Gogo never allows us to forget about its erotic intentions.”

Sanne Sannes shortly before his accident in Amsterdam in 1967.

If you are interested in the photography by Sanne Sannes, check out the Laurence Miller Gallery in New York or the HUP Gallery in Amsterdam.

If you like the work of Sanne Sannes, be sure to check our Masters of Photography series. We previously paid tribute to Fernand Fonssagrives, Jeanloup Sieff, Lucien Clergue and Ruth Bernhard and Klaus Kampert in our Masters of Photography series.

Images and most of this text courtesy of Laurence Miller and HUP galleries.