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Erwin Olaf
Sebastiaan ter Burg, 2012
Erwin Olaf
Erwin Olaf

Erwin Olaf

Country: Netherlands
Birth: 1959

Erwin Olaf (b. 1959) is an internationally exhibiting artist with works in the collections of museums and galleries around the world. Olaf has received numerous highly prestigious commissions and awards. Olaf emerged onto the international art scene when his series ‘Chessmen’ won the Young European Photographer of the Year award in 1988. This was followed by an exhibition at the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, with subsequent solo and group shows at major museums and galleries around the world, including Centro de Arte Contemporaneo de Málaga, Museum of Image and Sound in São Paulo, Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, SECCA in North Carolina and Santiago Museum of Contemporary Art. In 2018 the Rijksmuseum has accuired 500 key artworks from his fourty-year oeuvre for their collection. This follows recent official portraits for the Dutch royal family and the design of the new Euro coin for King Willem Alexander. Rutger Pontzen, art critic for Dutch newspaper the Volkskrant said, ‘Controversial or not, Erwin Olaf does give a picture of the Netherlands’.. ‘and that makes him distinctive in Dutch photography’.. ‘In other words, his oeuvre belongs to the cultural heritage’.

Starting his career as a photojournalist documenting the gay scene of the 1980s, Olaf increasingly sought and defined his own subjects, often explored in series of works in black and white (Squares, Chessmen and Blacks) and colour (Mind of their Own, Rain, Hope, Grief, Dusk, and Dawn). In recent years he has developed his themes through the form of monumental tableaux, for which he adopts the role of director as well as photographer. Olaf is a master of this craft, a virtuoso in the fine and subtle arts of photography and drama suffused with stillness, contemplation and dreamlike mystery. He is also a true picture maker, showing a close affinity with Old Masters and contemporary artists alike, from Rembrandt to Mapplethorpe, and in that sense his work emphatically bridges the gap between historical and contemporary picture-making.

Now internationally renowned, Erwin Olaf’s photography remains an essential part of the Netherlands’ cultural heritage. Taco Dibbits, Rijksmuseum director, says, ‘his work is deeply rooted in the visual traditions of Dutch art and history’ and that consequently Olaf is ‘one of the most important photographers of the final quarter of the 20th century’.

From progression to decay, notions of transformation are prevalent throughout Olaf’s work with a multitude of projects proving his fascination for society’s ever-changing demands, its simultaneous development and devolution of our moral compass, and its cultivated sense of anticipation for an almost-achievable contentment. These are the preoccupations that add a fascinating dimension to ‘Skin Deep’ and ‘Tamed and Anger’, but also colour the tension in ‘Separation’ which explores the artist’s relationship with his mother, the controversial ‘Royal Blood’, the pressures of ageing in ‘Mature’ and the self-portrait series ‘I Wish, I Am, I Will Be’. All these projects reveal the friction of an imperfect reality hidden beneath a perfectly curated façade.

His most recent work sees the conclusion of the three-part project ‘Shifting Metropolises’ [working title] - a series of artworks looking at internationally renowned cities undergoing seismic change in the modern world. Rather than fabricating a controlled studio environment, this trilogy is the only time the artist has shot on location, retaining his characteristic cinematic associations to produce a body of work wrought with the genuine emotions and neuroses of these places and their inhabitants.

A bold approach to his work has earned Olaf a number of commissions from institutions including Louis Vuitton, Vogue, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, for which he designed the 2016 ‘Catwalk’ exhibition, including a promotional video and photographic campaign. He has been awarded Photographer of the Year in the International Colour Awards 2006 and Kunstbeeld magazine’s Dutch Artist of the Year 2007 as well as the Netherlands’ prestigious Johannes Vermeer Prize. Additional international awards include the Infinity Award from the International Centre of Photography, the Silver Lion at the Cannes Lions Festival for Advertising, and a Lucie Award from the United States for his whole oeuvre. In 2013 he won the commission to redesign the Dutch Euro coins, which have been in circulation since 2014.

Olaf has screened video work at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Museum at FIT in New York, and at Nuit Blanche in Toronto with a live score commissioned for his series ‘Waiting’. He has also projected his 30 channel video installation ‘L’Éveil' onto the Hôtel de Ville for Nuit Blanche in Paris, curated by Jean de Loisy (Director, Palais de Tokyo). In March 2018 the Museu da Imagem e do Som in São Paulo hosted a retrospective of his work. In 2019 Shanghai Center of Photography (SCôP) will host a solo exhibition. The Gemeentemuseum The Hague and The Hague Museum of Photography will host an anniversary solo exhibition for Erwin Olaf his 60th birthday, and to celebrate 40 years of photography. In 2019 there will be a new retrospective monograph released, published by Hannibal, Aperture, Xavier Barral and Prestel.

Erwin Olaf (born 1959, Hilversum, the Netherlands) lives and works in Amsterdam.

Source: www.erwinolaf.com

 

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Seydou Keïta
Mali
1921 | † 2001
The great African portraitist Seydou Keïta lived in Bamako, Mali from 1921 to 2001. A self-taught photographer, he opened a studio in 1948 and specialized in portraiture. Seydou Keïta soon photographed all of Bamako and his portraits gained a reputation for excellence throughout West Africa. His numerous clients were drawn by the quality of his photos and his great sense of aesthetics. Many were young men, dressed in European style clothing. Some customers brought in items they wanted to be photographed with but Keïta also had a choice of European clothing and accessories - watches, pens, radios, scooter, etc. - which he put at their disposal in his studio. The women came in flowing robes often covering their legs and their throats, only beginning to wear Western outfits in the late 60s. Seydou Keïta worked primarily with daylight and for economic reasons took only a single shot for each picture. Seydou Keïta was discovered in the West in the 1990s. His first solo exhibition took place in 1994 in Paris at the Fondation Cartier. This was followed by many others in various museums, galleries and foundations worldwide. He is now universally recognized as the father of African photography and considered one of the greatest photographers of the 20th century. "It’s easy to take a photo, but what really made a difference was that I always knew how to find the right position, and I never was wrong. Their head slightly turned, a serious face, the position of the hands... I was capable of making someone look really good. The "photos were always very good. That’s why I always say that it’s a real art." Seydou Keïta, Bamako, 1995/1996 © André Magnin From en.wikipedia.orgSeydou Keïta was born in 1921 in Bamako, although the exact date is unknown. He was the oldest in a family of five children. His father Bâ Tièkòró and his uncle Tièmòkò were furniture makers. Keïta developed an interest in photography when his uncle gave him a Kodak Brownie with a film with eight shots in 1935, after returning from a trip to Senegal. In the beginning Keïta worked as both a carpenter and photographer, taking first portraits of his family and friends, later of people in the neighborhood. He learned photography and how to develop from Pierre Garnier, a French photographic supply store owner, and from Mountaga Traoré, his mentor. In 1948 he set up his first studio in the family house in Bamako-Koura behind the main prison.From www.gallery51.comConsidered to be one the important precursors of African photography, Seydou Keïta was born in Bamako (Mali) in 1920. Like many of his contemporaries, nothing particularly predestined him to become a photographer. His uncles bring back a camera from a trip to Senegal, and the young Seydou is fascinated. He starts photographing his relatives and discovers a deep passion for this art. Although he makes furniture for a living, he spends much time with Pierre Garnier who has his own studio. There, Seydou Keïta learns the secrets of the trade and soon realises that there was an enormous demand for individual pictures. This drives him to open his own studio in 1948. Up until then, whites had had a lot of trouble convincing local population to have their pictures taken, because they were so afraid to lose their identity. With Keïta it's different: he is one of them and permits them to choose their own picture that will be left for the close family. From then on, we see the opposite effect: people queue up to have their pictures taken. This is to become the great specialty of the malinese artist. Slowly he develops his own style, in which one finds accents of Mountaga Kouyaté's work, an intellectual that fought a bitter personal battle for the independence of Soedan. To look their best, that is the sole desire of people in front of Keïta's lens. Keïta even gives them costumes, accessories and furniture to further enhance their appearance.Men, women and children, all look perfectly elegant. If we look beyond the aesthetics of the black-and-white pictures, Seydou shows us a portrait of Malinese society in full transition. Finally Seydou is to become the country's official photographer, and will stop working in 1977. Nevertheless, it will be many years before his work is noted at the famous "Festival of African Photography". Source: www.seydoukeitaphotographer.com
Alessandro Puccinelli
My earliest professional experience dates from 1993 when I moved to Australia, as an assistant in advertising photography. Returning to Italy a few years later, I chose to concentrate my attention on commercial photography and personal work. At the age of 16 I had the great good fortune, especially living in Italy, a country not widely known for big waves, of discovering the joy of surfing. From that moment forward was born a strong link with the sea that still today profoundly influences my life choices, both professionally and personally. The presence of the sea in my daily life represents something extremely important to me onto which I project fear, dreams, hope and receiving in return inner strength and mental clarity. The choice of placing the sea centre stage in my life positively affects my personal work which, in truth, is born from this choice. In short, it is the place above all other places where I prefer to be. In an entirely natural way, in my personal work there has evolved a current of romanticism, reflected above all others in my love of the work of J.W Turner. This does not surprise me as with the sea I co habit with the virtues of force, elegance and simplicity. I recognise the sea in front of me as my ancestral home, it’s force and vastness make me feel small and vulnerable, yet, at the same time, it indicates to me a pathway, an example to follow or even a point of arrival. In 2008, motivated by the desire to remain in close contact with the ocean, I decided to divide my time between Italy and Portugal. Attracted by this country, bathed by a stupendous and vigorous sea, I found a good balance between a European lifestyle and a strong contact with nature. Today, I principally divide my time between Tuscany, Lisbon and the southern coast of Portugal where frequently I take refuge in my motorhome hideaway in search of intimacy with the ocean. My works have been recognized in many photography awards including, Sony World Photography Awards, International Photography Awards, Black and White Photography Awards, Hasselblad Masters and others.
Germaine Krull
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Germaine Krull (29 November 1897 – 31 July 1985), was a photographer, political activist, and hotel owner. Her nationality has been categorized as German, Polish, French, and Dutch, but she spent years in Brazil, Republic of the Congo, Thailand, and India. Described as "an especially outspoken example" of a group of early 20th-century female photographers who "could lead lives free from convention", she is best known for photographically-illustrated books such as her 1928 portfolio Métal. Germaine Luise Krull was born in Wilda, Poznan, then on the border between Germany and Poland in East Prussia, of an affluent German family. In her early years, the family moved around Europe frequently; she did not receive a formal education, but instead received homeschooling from her father, an accomplished engineer and a free thinker but a bit of a ne'er-do-well. Her father may have influenced her in at least two ways. 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Sally Mann
United States
1951
Sally Mann was born in Lexington, Virginia in 1951. She has always remained close to her roots. She has photographed in the American South since the 1970s, producing series on portraiture, architecture, landscape and still life. She is perhaps best known for her intimate portraits of her family, her young children and her husband, and for her evocative and resonant landscape work in the American South. Her work has attracted controversy at times, but it has always been influential, and since her the time of her first solo exhibition, at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., in 1977, she has attracted a wide audience. Sally Mann explored various genres as she was maturing in the 1970s: she produced landscapes and architectural photography, and she blended still life with elements of portraiture. But she truly found her metier with her second publication, a study of girlhood entitled At Twelve: Portraits of Young Women (1988). Between 1984 and 1994, she worked on the series, Immediate Family (1992), which focuses on her three children, who were then all aged under ten. While the series touches on ordinary moments in their daily lives—playing, sleeping, eating—it also speaks to larger themes such as death and cultural perceptions of sexuality. In her most recent series, Proud Flesh, taken over a six year interval, Mann turns the camera onto her husband, Larry. The resultant photographs are candid and frank portraits of a man at his most vulnerable moments. Mann has produced two major series of landscapes: Deep South (Bullfinch Press, 2005) and Mother Land. In What Remains (Bullfinch Press, 2003), she assembled a five-part study of mortality, one which ranges from pictures of the decomposing body of her beloved greyhound, to the site where an armed fugitive committed suicide on her property in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. She has often experimented with color photography, but she has remained most interested in black and white, especially photography's antique technology. She has long used an 8x10 bellows camera, and has explored platinum and bromoil printing processes. In the mid 1990s she began using the wet plate collodion process to produce pictures which almost seem like hybrids of photography, painting, and sculpture. Sally Mann lives and works in Lexington, Virginia. A Guggenheim fellow, and a three-times recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, Mann was named "America's Best Photographer" by Time magazine in 2001. She has been the subject of two documentaries: Blood Ties (1994), which was nominated for an Academy Award, and What Remains (2007) which premiered at Sundance and was nominated for an Emmy for Best Documentary in 2008. She has been the subject of major exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Her photographs can be found in many public and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art; and the Whitney Museum of American Art.(Source: www.gagosian.com)
Justyna Neryng
Poland
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Born in Poland in 1981, Justyna Neryng spent much of her childhood playing with her father’s cameras and dark room while roaming the forests of Chelmsko on the Czech boarder. As an adult, a mother and an immigrant to Britain, her photography has flourished into a substantial body of portraiture. Perhaps the most evocative of her works are her exquisitely emotive self-portraits that seem to carry the dark spirit of the forest from her childhood as well as potently baring the scares of modern womanhood. They show vulnerability and intimate eroticism as well as a deep sense of isolation and alienation. It is these portraits that have been most published and exhibited in both in her polish homeland and in the UK. More recently Justyna has begun to collaborate with her daughter Nell, on a project called Childhood Lost. Justyna currently produces her works in her adopted home town of Brighton and Hove, where she lives with her daughter. Artist Statement: Childhood Lost is an autobiographical ,self portrait in a different body, ongoing project exploring the nature of portraiture and memory. As a single mother I have found myself exploring notions and representations of childhood. I see my daughter’s experiences of growing up in urban England conflicting with my own experiences of growing up in rural Poland.I must confess that my own childhood is not a source of many happy memories, perhaps the most resonant of which are the times I escaped to a world of fantasy played out in the forests surrounding my home village of Chelmsko. Watching my daughter grow up has in a sense held a mirror to my own memories of the past while experiencing her childhood dreams enacted through play, and story telling. I find myself in a strange place where I can experience my own memories as well as see my daughter’s childhood through my adult eyes. It is these notions I am seeking to explore with the Childhood Lost project. Interweaving childhood nostalgia with the stories and myths of my Polish childhood and those that I share with my essentially British daughter. The project is using these ideas to produce a series of portraits that evoke characters that populate this world we know as childhood. A court of characters from myth and dreams. The images are aesthetically inspired by portraiture from the Golden Age of Dutch painting. By drawing on paintings as inspiration I am hoping to give a timeless feel to the final images. Also key to the project is also the painstaking styling and prop building, which I am using to evoke these different persona played out by my daughter. I want to develop the series in to a substantial set of portraits of my daughter playing the characters of childhood, as well as producing more elaborate set pieces embracing a theatricality that would take the project to the next level. Subject to funding it would also be a dream of mine to be able to revisit the forests of my own childhood and produce work there. Justyna Neryng is a multi-award winning self-taught photographer born in Poland and now living and working in the United Kingdom. She spent much of her childhood playing with her father’s cameras and dark room while roaming the forests of her hometown. She specialises in portraits and nudes, her photography has flourished into a substantial body of portraiture. She is mainly known for her enchanting theatrical portraits of her daughter, a gallery of triumphal characters, captured on a neutral and undefined background, with their fantastic ‘uniforms’ and imperious look . These images are aesthetically inspired by portraiture from the Golden Age of Dutch painting. And her exquisitely emotive self-portraits that seem to carry the dark spirit of the forest from her childhood as well as potently baring the scars of modern womanhood. They show vulnerability and intimate eroticism as well as deep sense of isolation and alienation.Source: justynaneryng.com
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