Erwin Olaf (Dutch, b.1959) is a photographer best-known for his personal and commercial work. Olaf studied journalism at the School of Journalism in Utrecht, and he has won several awards for his work. His chessmen series won first prize in the Young European Photographer competition in 1988. He also won Photographer of the Year in the International Colour Awards in 2006, and was named Kunstbeeld magazine's Artist of the Year of the Netherlands in 2007. Olaf also works with film, using it to provide a history that parallels his color photography. His films have been screened worldwide in museums and film festivals, such as the Museum at FIT in New York, the Reina Sofia National Museum in Madrid, the Fashion Film Festival at Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Fashion Film Festival in Melbourne, the International Film Festival in Turkey, the Dutch International Film Festival in Rotterdam, and the Centre for Contemporary Art in Ljubljana.

His photographs have been shown in galleries and museums all over the world as well. His works have appeared at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Moscow FotoMuseum, Hong Kong Tapper-Popermajer gallery, the New York Bilbao Art Centre, Vitoria-Gazteis Chelsea Art Museum, the Groningen Museum of Modern Art in Amsterdam, the B&D Gallery in Milan, the Roselyn Oxley Gallery, and the Venlo Institut Neerlandais. His most famous works include Grief, Rain, and Royal Blood. His work is often controversial and provocative. His work was once expelled from a show because it was not considered provocative enough (because it did not contain any nudity).

Olaf has photographed campaigns for Microsoft, Levi's, Nokia, Diesel Jeans, and Heineken, the latter two garnering him the coveted Silver Lion for Advertising at the Cannes Film Festival. He continues to photograph famous people, places, and things; he offers his expertise to international companies for both executive portraits and advertising campaigns. He has completed two books: Own, which is a collection of his work throughout the years, and Erwin Olaf.

Timeline

1995
Recipient, First prize, Woord en Beeld 1995 applied photography, Federation of Parents Association Mentally Disabled
1998
Recipient, Silver Lion Award, commercial-festival for Diesel Dirty Denim, Cannes
2002
Recipient, Commercial Prize - festival New York, for Heineken ‘Line-up’, New York
2003
Recipient, Grote Paul, Award, for the most famous Dutch photographer, Holland
2003
Gold, Photography District New York
2003
Merit, The Association of Photographers, London
2005
Rain, “The Hairdresser’s”, winner of a PDN Award Photography Annual New York, Hasted Hunt Gallery, New York
2005
Lavazza Calendar, Selected for the PDN Award Photography Annual New York
Films: Fotomuseum: Creation and Direction: ‘Toms Space', Antwerp; Rouge (2005) and Le Dernier Cri (2006), Detroit’s 10th International Film Festival; New Videoworks Erwin Olaf, Gallery Espacio Minimo, Madrid; Videoworks of Erwin Olaf, Montevideo, Amsterdam; FFF Videoshow!, Centraal museum, Utrecht; Cinema Sculptuur, Nederlands foto instituut, Rotterdam; Film by the sea, Centrum voor Beeldende Kunst, Vlissingen; Volumia, Direction, Music Video; Het, VPRO Broadcasting Company
Exclusively represented in the United States by Hasted Hunt

Exhibitions

2012
Erwin Olaf, Gallery Kong, Seoul, Korea (solo)
Works 2000 - 2012, Art Statements Gallery, Hong Kong, China (solo)
Erwin Olaf Short Stories, Gallery Wagner + Partner, Berlin, Germany (solo)
We Will Continue, Het Dolhuys, The Dutch National Psychiatry Museum, The Neatherlands
Full of Grace: The Child in Photography, The Palm Beach Photographic Centre, Florida
2011
Erwin Olaf: Liberty! Relief of Leiden 1574-2011, Museum De Lakenhal , The Netherlands (solo)
High Tension: Solo Exhibition by Erwin Olaf, Carbon 12, Dubai (solo)
Erwin Olaf: De La Mar, Hasted Kraeutler, New York, NY (solo)
Erwin Olaf: Captured Senses, Cermodern, Ankara, Turkey (solo)
Erwin Olaf: Nordic Light International Festival of Photography, Christiansund, Norway (solo)
SHOW OFF!, The Salsali Private Museum, Dubai
No Fashion, Please!, Kunsthalle Wien, Austria
The Unseen Eye: Photographs from the W.M. Hunt Collection, George Eastman House International Museum, Rochester, NY
DEAD_Lines, Von der Heydt Museum, Wuppertal, Germany
Beauty/Culture, Annenberg Space for Photography, Los Angeles, CA
International Fotofestiwal Out of Mind, Lodz, Polen
Interaction to Micro-Sociology: The Dual Thread of Media Intervention into Art in The Netherlands and China, Laboratory Art Beijing, Beijing, China
2010
Erwin Olaf: Hotel, Galerie Magda Danysz/Flatland Paris, Paris France (solo)
Erwin Olaf: A Journey to Excellence, exhibition commissioned by Louise Vuitton and the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, The Netherlands (solo)
Erwin Olaf, Galerie Paris-Beijing, Beijing, China (solo)
Private Lives: Erwin Olaf, Museum Forma - Centro Internationale di Fotografia, Milan, Italy (solo)
Recent Work, Hamiltons Gallery, London (solo)
Dusk / Dawn, Hermitage Amsterdam, The Netherlands (solo)
Hotel & Dusk / Dawn, HASTED HUNT KRAEUTLER, New York, January 28 - March 20 (solo)
The unbearable lightness of being, Carbon 12 Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Decadence Now! Visions of Excess, Gallery Rudolfinum Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
Longer Participation, Ideal Lab, Saint-Etienne, France
Cinema X: I Like to Watch Carlos Aires, Regina Galindo, Bruce LaBruce, Anetta Mona Chisa & Lucia Tkacova, Dani Marti, Erwin Olaf, Steve Reinke & Jessie Mott, Santiago Sierra, Curated by Paco Barragán, MOCCA, Toronto, Ontario
Atopia: Art and City in the 21st Century, Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona, Spain
De Pictura: En defensa de la belleza/ In Defense of Beauty, EMAT Espai Metropolita d’Art, Valencia, Spain
2009
Photography & Video: Rain, Hope, Grief, Fall, Et D’Autres Oeuvres - Institut Néerlandais, Paris, France (solo)
Eye Candy 1984 - 2009 - Photomuseum Antwerp, Atwerp, Belgium (solo)
Erwin Olaf : 50 Years (Retrospective), Domas Artrium, Salamanca Ciudad de Cultura, Salamanca, Spain (solo)
Erwin Olaf - Langhans Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic (solo)
The Non-Age: The Rebel of Age, Museo Internacional de Arte Contemporaneo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain
Wild Exaggeration, Haifa Museum of Art, Haifa, Israel
Amsterdam/New York Perspectives: Dutch Photography in New York, The Museum of the City of New York
The Non-Age, Kunsthalle Winterthur, Winterthur, Switzerland
All that is Nothing Melts into Air, MuHKA- Museum for Contemporary Art, Antwerp, Belgium
Why Look at Animals? - Jacksonville Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville, Florida
2008
Still Living: Structure, Surface and Espression - South Eastern Centre for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, NC (solo)
Hope, Rain, Grief & Fall - The Hague Museum of Photography, The Hague, The Netherlands (solo)
Grief - Flatland Paris & Gallery Magda Danysz, Paris, France (solo)
Erwin Olaf - Space E6, Shenzhen, China (solo)
Human All Too Human - Fotografia Europea Reggio Emilia 2008, Reggio Emilia, Italy (solo)
Short Stories in Contemporary Photography - Zurich Museum of Design, Zurich, Switzerland
The Hague Museum of Photography, Den Haag, The Nederlands
Fotografia Europea Reggio Emilia 2008, Reggio Emilia, Italy
Erwin Olaf, Public Institute Space E6 in Shenzhen, China, organised by Art Statements Gallery, Hong Kong
Erwin Olaf : Grief, Galerie Magda Danysz, Paris, France
2007
Grief, M+B Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Grief, HASTED HUNT Gallery, New York, NY
Grief, Reflex New Art Gallery, Amsterdam
Dangerous Beauty, Chelsea Art Museum, New York, NY
Subzones, Galerie Adler, Frankfurt, Germany
2006
Nostalgia, Galerie Magda Danysz, Paris, France
Elegance & Perversity, Shoalhaven City Arts Centre, Australia
People of the Labyrinth, Golden Age, Central Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands
2005
Rain & Hope, HASTED HUNT Gallery, New York, NY
Australia Centre for Photography, Sydney, Australia
ARCO Madrid, Spain
Museum of Modern Art, Moscow, Russia
Morocco, Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The Other Europe: On Art and Politically Incorrectness, Bergen, Norway
Self-Exposure, ClampArt Gallery, New York
BAC !05, International Festival of Contemporary Art, Barcelona, Spain
Going Dutch, Museum of New Art, Pontiac, MI
Gorgeous Isn't Good Enough, Milan, Italy
Viritatas Splendor Photographs 1988-2003, Lodz, Poland
2004
Imitation of Live, Modern Art Gallery of Bologna, Italy
National Gallery for Foreign Art, Sofia, Bulgaria
Limburgs Museum, Venlo, The Netherlands
Galerie J. Rabouan Moussion, Paris, France
If ‘Raining Cats & Dogs’, GAM/Modern Art Gallery of Bologna, GenderBender, Bologna, Italy
Lies, lust Art & Fashion Signale der kleidung, Podewil, Berlin, Germany
30 years Dutch Phototgraphy, ACF, Amsterdam
Cultuurlaboratorium, Limburgs Museum, Venlo, Netherlands
2003
Mais Quelle Tête tu fais! part two, Galerie Le Garage, Toulouse, France
Mortalis, Fotomuseum Den Haag, The Hague, Netherlands
Fundancion Foto Colectania, Museo Artium, Vitoria-Gazteis, Spain
Child in Time, Gemeentemuseum Helmond, Helmond, Netherlands
Dangerous Beauty, Chelsea Art Museum, New York, NY
Melting Pop, Palazzo delle Papesse, Siene, Italy
2003 Silver, Groninger Museum, Groningen, The Netherlands
Art Rotterdam Fair, with Flatland Gallery, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Erwin Olaf, Tapper-Popermajer Gallery, Malmo
Erwin Olaf, Museo Arte Contemp, Nuoro, Italy
Separation, B&D Gallery, Milan, Italy
2002
Paris Photo with Flatland Gallery, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Cultureel Centrum, Knokke-Heist, Belgium
Flatland Gallery, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Espacio Minimo, Madrid, Spain
3rd International Photography Festival, Clermont-Ferrand, France
Golden Eagle, Zlote Orly, ‘Nescafé advertising’, Poland
Paradise, B&D Gallery, Milan , Italy
Paradise, Espacio Minimo, Madrid, Spain
Paradise, Flatland Gallery, Utrecht, Netherlands
Mind of Their Own, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Citizen K exhibition, Mois de la photo, Ville de Paris
Love at First Sight, Noordbrabants museum, ‘s Hertogenbosch
Fashion Victims, Bari
Elvis is hier/ Hier is Cannes, FAXX podium voor hedendaagse kunst, Tilburg, Guardaroba
Nicé Phore, 3e International Photography Festival, Montferrand
2001
Reflex Gallery, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Espacio Minimo, Madrid, Spain
2001 B&D, Milan, Italy
Art Chicago, Chicago, IL
Crown Gallery, Brussels, Belgium
Galway Art Center, Dublin, Ireland
Laurence Miller Gallery, New York, NY
2000
Mature, Espacio Minimo, Madrid, Spain
Mature & Royal Blood, Paris Photo/Flatland Gallery, Paris, France
Fashion Victims, Il Ponte, Rome, Italy
Retrospective, Arsenal, Prague (cat)
Violence & Passion, Reflex Gallery, Amsterdam (cat)
Schijn en wezen, portretten en codes, Nederlands Foto Instituut, Rotterdam, Netherlands (cat)
Bodies, Clothing, Surfaces, Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, Germany (cat)
Ecce Homo, het beeld van Christus, Kunsthal, Rotterdam, Netherlands
3e Internationaal Fotofestival, Turnhout, Belgium
1999
Members choice PANL; Photographers Association of the Netherlands
Mature, Kunst Rai / Flatland Gallery, Amsterdam
Mature, Il Ponte, Rome, Italy
Theatre-compagnies works, De Meerse Theatre, Amsterdam
Haks was here, Groninger Museum, Groningen, Netherlands (cat)
Noorderlicht Festival, Groningen (cat)
PANL, Photographers Association of the Netherlands, Amsterdam (cat)
1998
Silver Lion, commercial-festival for Diesel Dirty Denim, Cannes, France
The Deadly Sins, Amsterdams centrum voor de fotografie, Amsterdam (cat)
Standje Franciscus, Flatland Gallery, Utrecht, Netherlands
1997
Triptych, Museum van Bommel van Dam, Venlo, Netherlands (cat)
1996
Mind of their Own, Il Ponte Contemporanea, Rome, Italy
Stars in Black & White & Colour, Roselyn Oxley Gallery; Sydney Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, Australia (cat)
Home is where the heart is, Fremdkörper Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam
1995
Girls 1985 – 1995, Galerie Steltman, Amsterdam, Galerie Steltman New York, NY
Erwin Olaf Fotografien '84 -'95, Museum, Erlangen, Germany
Erwin Olaf, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, Germany
Erwin Olaf, 10 years of photographs, Wessel O'conner Gallery, New York
Mind of their own, Fotofestival, Naarden, Netherlands (cat)
1994
Tafel van 10, Flatland Gallery, Utrecht, Netherlands
La Beaute Inexacte, Gallery Oz, Paris, France
10 years of European Photo-prize, Kulturzentrum Englische Kirche, Bad Homburg (cat)
1993
Erwin Olaf , AB Gallery, Paris, France
Ten Tables, CBK, Groningen, Netherlands (cat)
Joy, Kunsthal for Modern Art, Rotterdam, Netherlands (cat)
Manipulation, Staten Gallery, Den Haag, Netherlands (cat)
1992
Style Shapes Function, (with Borek Sipek), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (cat)
Double Dutch, Sala Uno, Rome, Italy (cat)
Photography in assignment, Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam
Illusions and Travestissements, (Joel Peter Witkin, Cindy Sherman, Pierre et Gilles, Robert Mapplethorpe),AB Gallery, Paris
Reflex Miniatuur museum voor moderne en hedendaagse kunst, AMC ziekenhuis Amsterdam (cat)
1991
The Fourth Wall, Oude Kerk, Amsterdam (cat)
1990
Blacks - seventeen royal portraits, Fodor Museum, Amsterdam (cat)
1989
Preis für Junge Europäische Fotografen, Museum Ludwig, Köln, Germany (cat)
Das Portrait, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, Germany (cat)
La Biennal de Barcelona, Centre de Cultura Contemporania, Barcelona, Spain (cat)
Exuberance Now! Less is a Bore, Groninger Museum, Groningen, Netherlands (cat)
1988
First prize, Young European Photographers, Deutsche Leasung AG Bad Homburg.
Chessmen - an attempt to play the game, Focus Gallery, Amsterdam (cat)
Behold the Men, The Photographer's Gallery, London; Stills Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland
1987
Nudity in front of the camera, Meervaart Theater, Amsterdam (cat)
1986
Männer sehen Männer, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, Germany (cat)
1985
The art of seduction, Melkweg, Amsterdam
1984
Foto 1984, Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam
1983
Among Men / Among Women, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam

Public Collections

Martin Margulies Collection, USA
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Ludwig Museum, Köln, Germany
Groninger Museum, Groningen, The Netherlands
Deutsche Leasing AG, Germany
Caldic collection, The Netherlands
Museo Artium, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain
Randstad Collection, The Netherlands
Fundacio Foto Colectania, Spain
Centraal Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands
COFF collection, Spain Art + Public, Geneve