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Joel Peter Witkin (1939) and Erwin Olaf (1959)

 

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1983, well before the fame and celebrity status of Erwin Olaf, there was this photographer who was presented in an exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum…Joel Peter Witkin was his name and his photographs balanced between absurd realism and surrealism. The same kind of photographs Erwin Olaf made in one of his first series CHESSMAN (1988). This series must have been strongly inspired by Witkin, since it depicts the same kind of absurd subjects, props and even the tone/color and atmosphere in the photographs are the same.

This series by Olaf was the first to make his work known among collectors and since, he has developed a style of his own, with completely staged photographs with a typical sixties/seventies atmosphere, but if you think his first series CHESS MEN was original and typically Erwin Olaf, than first have a look at Joel Peter Witkin and than judge again. Both mentioned publications and others on Witkin and Olaf are available at www.ftn-books.com.

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