Erwin Olaf has passed away at the age of 64, his management informed the ANP news agency. He was one of the most famous photographers in the Netherlands. Olaf has been suffering from emphysema for many years and a few weeks ago he underwent a lung transplant. Erwin Olaf started out as a documentary photographer, but he later focused on stage photography.
The family said in a statement that Wednesday morning’s death was unexpected. Although he recovered after a lung transplant, Olaf “suddenly became unwell and resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful.”
Last Saturday dutch photographer Paul Blaca died. His body was worn out after years of drug and alcohol abuse. Without Blanca dutch photography would have been half as interesting as it is now. He was self taught and discovered and explored portrait photography in a very special and own way, transforming it and perfecting it into his preferred form of photography.
the following text comes from the Paul Blanca site:
Paul Blanca (1958) is a Dutch self-taught photographer who started with a Canon F1 and later switched to a 6×6 cm Haselblad camera. In the 80s he created a series of violent self-portraits inspired by Robert Mapplethorpe (1946 – 1989) and Andres Serrano. Mapplethorpe introduced Blanca into the art world to artists like Grace Jones and Keith Haring stating “Paul Blanca is my only competitor”. Mapplethorpe’s favourite was Blanca’s self-portrait ‘Mother and Son’.
Hans van Maanen and Erwin Olaf call Paul Blanca the photographer of emotion. That ties in with his work. His self-portraits run like a thread through his overall work. For some things you can’t ask a model. For example, to hit a nail through someone’s hand. And like the self-portrait Mickey Mouse. In which a smiling Mickey Mouse is carved into his back with a thumb up.
For his series ‘Par la Pluie des Femmes’ women were captured in tears by thinking of their most traumatic experience. When he lived in Spain for 2 years, he stood with his camera at the front of the Spanish bullfighting arena. This resulted in the portfolio Sangre de Toro (Blood of the Bull): silk-screen prints with Bull’s blood.
In the beginning of the 90s he photographed the facial expression of speedball hookers for the series ‘Wit en Bruin’. Speedball is a very dangerous mixture of cocaine with heroin or morphine and has a substantial risk of overdose.
In the series ‘Deformation’ he was inspired by Rob Leer‘s SM scene. Models mutulated by fishline and hanging in the air, supported by the same fishline. This series was made for Amsterdam International Fashion Week (AIFW), in collaboration with fashion designer Hester Slaman, and exposed in Apart Gallery Amsterdam.
With the series ‘Kristal’ and ‘Mi Matties’ he had a double exhibition at Witzenhausen Gallery in 2008. Kristal is a series about the sweet and the bitter in relation with women. Presented in Witzenhausen Gallery Amsterdam in 2008. Mi Matties (my friends) is a series made in one of the neighborhoods of old Amsterdam. The portraits show young men who are presenting themselves as a group, sort of a gang.
In 2014 he created a self-portrait ‘Mother and Son’, 32 years after the first self-portrait, where he carries his mother, just like he carried her to bed for 4 years because she couldn‘t walk.
Recently i encountered some works by Rodney Graham at the Voorlinden Museum near Wassenaar. Graham depicts himself in situations where he acts the main role. His works are a bit like the ones by Cindy Sherman, but less bizar. Everything in his photographs is specially made for the photograph and built exactly according to the specifications of the artist. This reminded me of the latest photographs by Erwin Olaf who’s compositions were built according to a specific plan by one of the masters of this kind of setup…Floris Vos.
Rodney Graham is a Canadian Conceptual Artist who’s works belong to the Vancouver School. His photographs are extremely large , staged and tell a story of their own.
A follow up on the many blogs i have now written on Erwin Olaf. In the mid Nineties Olaf was diagnosed with COPD, a lung disease which makes him now one of the vulnerable people during this Covid-19 pandemic. He made a very personal series , making himself the subject and staging himself in some situations that can only occur during these pandemic times. The series is called ” APRIL FOOL 2020 ” and is now published for the very first time . The series which is now published in the magazine contains 8 photographs. Erwin Olaf makes himself the subject of these impressive, very personal photographs. The Volkskrant magazine had this honour to publish these for the first time.
The magazine is a supplement to the Volkskrant newspaper which was published on Saturday the 16th of May. Maybe you can obtain a copy for your collection yourself, because this is an important , historical series and who knows, perhaps the only time it is published. ww.ftn-books.com has some very nice Erwin Olaf titles available.
Just a little younger than Erwin Olaf, but seeing both photographers photo’s you can conclude that they are from the same generation and inspired each other. Tollens is an Erwin Olaf 2.0? ……
far from that, because this is an artist with a keen eye on her surroundings and placing objects in such a way that they become something else and have a different meaning . It is the absurd combinations that make her photographs in the book WEIRD NATURE stand out from the others. ( book available at www.ftn-books.com).
But one look at her site ( http://www.cornelietollens.com) shows that her other discipline in which she excels….. the photography of dutch actors and artists….is another specialty. She has had almost every younger artist in front of her camera and for those familiar with dutch cultural life this is a great way to look at the most famous of dutch actors and artists.
Micha Klein in s probably the first dutch Computer artist. He studied at the Rietveld academy and was there the firts to complete his studies as a video / computer artist. Using the dance scene as one of his first sources of inspiration he soon became known for his use of bright colors and the use of “beautiful People” .
His art stands out since you can immediately see that his photographs or stills are worked over by computer. The result is an artificial kind of photograph which does not corresponds with reality. Together with Erwin Olaf and Ruud van Empel he forms a new generation of photographers who use the computer as an extra lense to make their photographs perfect. http://www.ftn-books.com has the Groninger Museum publication on Micha Klein available.
The Erwin Olaf exhibitions at the Gemeentemuseum/ Fotomuseum are now closed for some months and what remains i sthe memory of a highly successful exhibitions with evn for me had some new elements in it which i did not have seen before. I had seen the cabinet with the peeping holes, but the Video wall with some 20 nude people who crouched and erecetd themselves was impressing. The catalogue however did not do justice to the exhibition. Too large, too expensive and the lesser known moving images from the video walls were missing. Still a great exhibition to remember and for those collectors interested i secured some of the materials that were published to promote the exhibition .
These are available at www.ftn-books.com together with some other nice Erwin Olaf publications
First of all i have to apologize in publishing this blog without commemorating Anthon Beeke who died a few weeks ago and who’ s death i announced on the the 26th of September in a special blog on Beeke. Here is the blog which was prepared some months ago.
One of the great and now world wide known names in dutch graphic design is Anthon Beeke. Born is 1940 he was of the flower power generation who took over Amsterdam in the late sixties. Free love, drugs and influences from all over the world shaped a generation of designers of which Beeke was one of . Without knowing who the designer is, you immediately recognize his work. Bright colors , details, shocking views or attributes draw you into his designs immediately.
But it is not always his intention to shock, there were occasions that his designs were just functional. For instance his Wanderlieder
designed catalogue for the Stedelijk is only different in size but holds and reads just like a normal book.
Beeke is one of the great designers in the Netherlands and well worth collecting. www.ftn-books.com has some nice titles by Beeke available including the poster he made with Erwin Olaf for het Anjer Fonds.
Artist/ Author: Oliver Boberg
Title : Memorial
Publisher: Oliver Boberg
Measurements: Frame measures 51 x 42 cm. original C print is 35 x 25 cm.
signed by Oliver Boberg in pen and numbered 14/20 from an edition of 20