Erwin Olaf: Strange Beauty by Roger Diederen and Anja Huber
A 40-year survey of lush portraits and eerie genre scenes from the celebrated Dutch photographer
The work of Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf (born 1959) is recognizable for its high-gloss aesthetic value and compositional precision, all staged down to the smallest detail. His large-scale portraiture and genre scenes are by turns sensual and surreal; each photograph appears as though it could be a frame lifted from a film.
Over the course of his creative career, Olaf has worked as a photojournalist and a fashion photographer as well as a fine art photographer: the confluence of these disciplines informs his signature style of imagery that hints at a darker narrative behind an immaculate varnish. Midcentury advertisements and his own past as a participant in the 1980s club scene also serve to inform the aesthetic that Olaf has painstakingly cultivated over the past four decades. His scenes frequently feature strangely beautiful sitters cast in painterly light; in fact, they often deal with questions of democracy, equality, or self-determination.
Marking Olaf’s first comprehensive solo exhibition in Germany, this publication deals with essential aspects of Olaf’s art and offers an attractive survey of his multifaceted oeuvre from the past forty years. Olaf’s most recent works, some of which were created especially for the exhibition at the Kunsthalle Munich, are also featured.