Erwin Olaf
Artbook /D.A.P

Erwin Olaf

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Amsterdam-based Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf (born 1959) has long been considered one of today’s foremost practitioners of portrait photography, and the enigmatic and elusively contemplative atmospheres of his theatrical compositions are widely imitated. Saturated in somber yet luminous hues, and exactingly composed, Olaf’s color photographs, usually featuring only one or two people and set indoors, suggest dramatic narratives fraught with intangible restlessness. The attention to emotional character is scrupulous—as Olaf recently told Lyle Rxer in an interview, “you examine the state of the face, the person’s eyes, the small gestures, the way the muscles move slightly, and of course the influence of light and cropping to add to the intuitions you receive. These restrictions are the main reason why I feel more comfortable in my personal projects, where I can fantasize, or let’s say, I can create a world of my imagination.”

This concise catalog offers a journey through Olaf’s entire career to date, from the Chessmen series of the late 1980s that brought him international renown, and for which he was awarded the Young European Photographer Award in 1988, up to the recent Palm Springs project (2018). The volume includes a critical text by Walter Guadagnini and a conversation with the artist.

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