The New York Times called him “a photographer who makes you ask, ‘What has happened here?'” And indeed, Erwin Olaf‘s images have the haunted quality of uncomfortable storytelling – not unlike the strangest, most enigmatic scenes from so many David Lynch films.
The venerable Dutch shutterbug is genuinely having a moment in 2019, with glowing press in the Times, The Guardian, i-D Vice, and Artnet propelling him into the international culture cognoscenti spotlight this summer. And a solo show at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague earlier this year was reportedly the most visited photography exhibition ever in Holland. But most importantly, his much buzzed about 12 x Erwin Olaf has opened at Amsterdam’s prestigious Rijksmuseum.
It should be noted that the exalted cultural institution rarely does shows dedicated entirely to a single living artist – so the honor comes with a significant measure of gravitas.
Impressive in scope, 12 x Erwin Olaf – curated in conjunction with Paris’ Danysz Gallery, which represents him – will boast more than 500 objects, including prints, videos, portfolios, books, magazines, even posters. Word also has it that more than sixty of his works were fully acquired by the Rijksmuseum in advance of the show.
A key feature of the exhibition will be a “dialogue” of sorts between his work and the giants of Dutch painting – like Rembrandt, Vermeer, Breitner, and other Old Masters – who have provided no small measure of inspiration for Olaf over the years.
Fittingly, the Aperture Foundation published the impressive monograph Erwin Olaf: I Am earlier this year, its existential title revealing much about his creative philosophical development over the last four decades. But we vigorously recommend making the exhibition a perfect excuse for a summer visit to Amsterdam – as Olaf’s images are just that much more gripping up close.
And, well, you’ll be in Amsterdam.