Island Life: Photographs from the Martin Parr Foundation

Cas Oorthuys

Born 1908, Leiden, died 1975

Oorthuys took up photography while studying architecture in Haarlem 1926 – 30. Unemployed in the 1932 global depression he joined the communist party, setting up an advertising agency, OV-20 which ran from 1932-35. From 1936 he concentrated on photographing poverty, unemployment and suppression – ‘workers’ photography’ – and designing left-wing graphics. A member of the Dutch resistance during World War II, he was imprisoned in 1944. After his release he joined the Underground Camera group – members concealed their cameras, shooting ‘from the hip’. The Nederlands Fotomuseum holds ‘Cas’s Cabinet’ – a wooden cabinet containing over half a million contact sheets.