Max van Norden’s Red Light District
Max van Norden is a Dutch author who published short stories about his experiences in the Red Light District of Amsterdam. His drawings are very naive and drawn from memory. Still they give us a good insight of how Dutch window prostitutes looked between 1960 and 1990. Some of these prostitutes were drawn from his childhood memories. Others are portrayed because Van Norden was a regular customer of Amsterdam’s Red Light District in the 1980s en 1990s.
About these drawings
The images on display here are reproductions from the original series by Van Norden. He drew them in Black & White with a Rotring pen and pencil on water color paper. Very few images from this series circulate as colored versions. Those were hand colored by an agency when these images were first published in the Dutch edition of Penthouse magazine.
Rumor has it that Van Norden drew one of these images for each day his girlfriend was on a vacation in Spain. His German girlfriend was known for her sexual adventures. Out of jealousy Van Norden who stayed at home drew these images of Dutch window prostitutes. He also wrote Dutch stories of his own experiences in the Red Light District to go along with these images.
Very little is known about Max van Norden, except maybe for the fact that he won an obscure literary prize that is listed in the Dutch Literary Museum. Others claim that the name Max van Norden is hand-picked as a pseudonym from the Tropic of Cancer, written by the American novelist Henry Miller. One of the main characters of this particular novel is called Max van Norden and he is described as a frequent visitor of Parisian brothels.
Of course our own Van Norden denies any responsibility for creating these drawings of prostitutes. The album we have used to create these reproductions is owned by a Dutch Art Historian who wants to remain anonymous. She denies any knowledge of how she got into possession of these drawings.