Unique exhibition of snapshots by Kiek

The Dutch word for snapshot is ‘kiekje’. Not many people know that this word was actually derived from the name of the Leiden photographer Israël David Kiek (1811-1899), whose trademark were informal student portraits. The IPFL presents to you a permanent exhibition of a selection of his shots in Grand Café Van der Werff.

Kieks most important customers were the Leiden students. In those days, it was usual to have a group portrait made, to show you are ‘one of them’. Students often came by his studio in the early morning, coming straight from a party. Many photos show rather tipsy students. The photographer himself also was not very ‘sharp’ at this time of day. The students started calling these pictures ‘kiekjes’, which became synonymous with informal photo’s, shot without much technique.

Grand café Van der Werff is no random place. Kieks studio – a wooden building – was opposite, on the Rijnsburger Singel. A very strategic place, right between the crowded club called ‘Sociëteit Amicitia’ (at the spot of today’s Grand Café) and the tavern ‘Zomerzorg’ situated on the way to the railway station. Therefore, the footpath next to the Grand Café is called ‘Kiekpad’ and has been honoured with a small camera-shaped monument for Kiek since 2001 that contains images of some ‘kiekjes’ – others than are shown at the exhibition.

The exhibition was officially opened on Sunday October 12th at noon, by mr. Flip Bool, art historian and former teacher of photography at the art academy of AKV|St. Joost, Avans Hogeschool (Breda). The photos that are shown are partly from his private collection – his grandfather is pictured on most of them – and partly from the collection of Leiden University Libraries.