Oorthuys Cas
Per dockyard naar huis

Cas Oorthuys

About the artist

1908 — 1975

Cas Oorthuys was a Dutch photojournalist and graphic designer whose work, often political (he designed and shot leaflets for communist and anti-fascist organisations), documented interwar and postwar periods of rapid social change. He frequently photographed poverty among the working classes, street life and the homeless, and police violence. 

Oorthuys documented Nazi occupiers and worked with the resistance during WWII, shooting passport photos for fake identity documents and, in 1944, being arrested and temporarily imprisoned at the camp in Amersfoort. When the Nazis placed a ban on photography outside of the home, Oorthuys and other social documentarians, working for the organisation De Ondergedoken Camera (The Underground Camera), shot discretely from the hip, with results of mixed quality, to document the oppression, and resistance, of the infamously savage European winter of '44/45.

Postwar, Oorthuys would travel to Indonesia to join the campaign for independence from Dutch colonisation. He would go on to work in Macedonia, Serbia and the Congo, design a series of Dutch postage stamps, and receive his first solo exhibition at Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum in 1969.

Oorthuys died aged sixty-six in 1975. He leaves behind a legacy of photography as activism for freedom and equality, and an archive of over half a million photographs curated by his widow, and later donated to Rotterdam's Netherlands Photo Museum. 

Technical information

Image 1: Per dockyard naar huis