Erwin Olaf

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Erwin Olaf
Olaf in 2012
Erwin Olaf Springveld

(1959-07-02)2 July 1959
Hilversum, Netherlands
Died20 September 2023(2023-09-20) (aged 64)
Groningen, Netherlands

Erwin Olaf Springveld (2 July 1959 – 20 September 2023), professionally known as Erwin Olaf, was a Dutch photographer from Hilversum.[1] Time magazine described his work as straddling "the worlds of commercial, art and fashion photography at once".[2]


Public toilets designed by Rem Koolhaas and Erwin Olaf in Groningen

Erwin Olaf Springveld was born on 2 July 1959 in Hilversum, Netherlands.

Olaf was most famous for his commercial and personal work. He was commissioned to photograph advertising campaigns for large international companies such as Levi's, Microsoft, and Nokia.[3] Some of his most famous photographic series include "Grief", "Rain", and "Royal Blood". Never one to shy away from controversy, Olaf's work was often daring and provocative.[4] Humorously however, one of his early photographs was once expelled from a show on the basis of not containing nudity.[citation needed]

His work received many awards[5] and has been exhibited around the world.[6]

Olaf studied journalism at the School of Journalism in Utrecht.[3] His work was shown in galleries and museums all internationally, for example at Wagner + Partner, Berlin; Flatland Gallery, Amsterdam; Hamiltons Gallery, London; Galerie Magda Danysz, Paris; Gallery Espacio Minimo, Madrid; and many others.

Olaf designed the 2014 Dutch euro coins with the portrait of King Willem-Alexander.[7] In 2018, he was responsible for the official portraits of the Dutch royal family.[8]

He was an advocate for gay rights. In 2012 he organized a "kiss in" that had around a hundred participants after a snack bar owner had commented on Olaf kissing his boyfriend.[9]

Olaf died on 20 September 2023, at the age of 64, as a result of long-term emphysema weeks after receiving a lung transplant. Olaf was first diagnosed with emphysema in 1996.[10] He had predicted what the illness would do to him in the third panel of his 2009 self-portrait series I wish, I am, I will be. The Longfonds [nl], the Dutch non-profit organisation for lung patients, called it very brave that he had been so open about his illness.[9]


  • 2021:
    • Munich Kunsthalle - Solo Exhibition: Unheimlich schön (irreally beautiful)
  • 2019:
    • Anniversary Solo Show, Gemeente Museum The Hague & The Hague Museum of Photography, The Hague, The Netherlands
    • Palm Springs Unseen, Flatland, Amsterdam
  • 2017:
    • Album 13 d'Indochine, Galerie Rabouan Moussin, Paris, France
    • Human&Nature, Gallery Kong, Seoul, Republic of Korea
  • 2016:
    • Erwin Olaf - Four Series, Centro de Arte Contemporaneo de Málaga, Málaga, Spain
    • Cell of Emotions, National Art Gallery, Sofia, Bulgaria
    • Homage Louis Gallait, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, Russia
  • 2015:
    • A Corps Perdu, Magda Danysz Gallery, Paris[11]
    • Erwin Olaf: The Empire of Illusion, Museo de Arte Contemporaine de Rosario, Rosario, Argentina
    • Waiting, Flatland, Amsterdam
    • "Retrospective," Fondation Oriente Museu, Macau, Chine
  • 2014:
  • 2013:
    • "Erwin Olaf - Berlin," Rabouan Moussion Gallery, Paris[13]
    • "Erwin Olaf - Waiting," Rabouan Moussion Gallery, Paris[14]
    • "Émotions - Installations," La Sucrière, Lyon
    • "Berlin," Hasted Kraeutler Gallery, New York
    • "Berlin," Hamiltons Gallery, Londres[15]
  • 2012:
    • The Dark Side, Rabouan Moussion Gallery, Paris
    • "Works 2000 - 2010," Art Statements Gallery, Hong Kong
    • "Erwin Olaf," Kong Gallery, Séoul
    • "Short Stories," Wagner Gallery, Berlin
  • 2011:
    • "Erwin Olaf," Art Statements Gallery, Tokyo
    • "Paradise the club," Rabouan Moussion Gallery, Paris
    • "High Tension," Carbon, Dubaï
    • "Captured senses," Cer Modern, Ankara
    • "Erwin Olaf," Nordic Light International Festival of Photography, Kristiansund
  • 2010:
    • "Erwin Olaf Hotel," Magda Danysz Gallery, Paris
    • "Erwin Olaf Hotel," Paris-Benijing Gallery, Pékin
    • "Erwin Olaf - Recent Work," Hamiltons Gallery, Londres
    • "Hotel, Dawn & Dusk," Hasted Kraeutler Gallery, New York
  • 2009 :
    • Dusk, Flatland, Amsterdam
    • "Série Laboral Escena," Magda Danysz Gallery, Paris
    • "Rain, Hope, Grief & Fall," Institut Netherlands, Paris
    • "Darts of Pleasure," Domus Artium Museum, Salamanque
    • "Moving Targets," Haifa Museum of Art, Haïfa


  • Medal of Honour for Science and Arts (13 March 2023).[16]


  1. ^ "Profile of Erwin Olaf". Art Culture. 5 June 2008. Archived from the original on 29 May 2012. Retrieved 12 September 2010.
  2. ^ Conway, Richard (20 March 2013). "Erwin Olaf's Berlin: Portraits of a New World". Time. Retrieved 26 December 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Erwin Olaf Profile". Bernstein & Andriulli. Retrieved 25 November 2010.
  4. ^ Carnick, Anna (3 February 2010). "Checking In: Erwin Olaf". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 September 2010.
  5. ^ "Biography of Erwin Olaf" (PDF). Bernstein & Andriulli. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2010.
  6. ^ "Erwin Olaf Awards and Exhibitions". Retrieved 25 November 2010.
  7. ^ (in Dutch) Koning Willem-Alexander slaat nieuwe Nederlandse euromunten Archived 2014-01-13 at the Wayback Machine, Dutch government, 2013. Retrieved on 3 July 2014.
  8. ^ "Official photographs". Royal House of the Netherlands. 7 October 2015. Retrieved 23 September 2023.
  9. ^ a b Wieringa, Rein (20 September 2023). "Fotograaf Erwin Olaf onverwachts overleden" [Photographer Erwin Olaf passes away unexpectedly]. NRC (in Dutch). Retrieved 23 September 2023.
  10. ^ "Fotograaf Erwin Olaf (64) overleden" [Photographer Erwin Olaf (64) passed away]. (in Dutch). 20 September 2023. Retrieved 20 September 2023.
  11. ^ "A CORPS PERDU, Kevin Frilet, Alma Har'el, Erwin Olaf, Benjamin Seroussi, Marie Vic". Magda Danysz (in French). Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  12. ^ "ART & FASHION, Liu Bolin, Gael Davrinche, Erwin Olaf, Wang Keping". Magda Danysz (in French). Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  13. ^ "Exposition Erwin Olaf - Berlin". Galerie Rabouan Moussion. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  14. ^ "Exposition Erwin Olaf - Waiting". Galerie Rabouan Moussion. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  15. ^ "Erwin olaf Hamiltons gallery". Archived from the original on 13 March 2013.
  16. ^ Imago

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