Erwin Olaf, a up to date Dutch photographer known for the precision of his staged photos of equally countercultural figures and Dutch royalty, died on Wednesday in Groningen, the Netherlands. He was 64.
Shirley den Hartog, his company associate, mentioned the demise, in a hospital, was caused by complications of a new lung transplant. Mr. Olaf experienced struggled for many years with hereditary emphysema, she claimed.
Mr. Olaf commenced his job as a photojournalist documenting the homosexual liberation movement in the 1980s ahead of getting to be 1 of the to start with photographers in the Netherlands to stage images working with theatrical costuming and sets. His topics had been frequently nonconforming to both gender stereotypes and cultural norms — individuals with strange bodies, choice lifestyles or a penchant for bondage equipment.
“He made specific photos or extremely suggestive photos that turned legendary,” mentioned Taco Dibbits, director of the Rijksmuseum, which owns and displays Mr. Olaf’s get the job done. The pictures, he added, “showed to a larger sized general public how crucial it is to allow individuals be who they are, and to allow them express by themselves.”
Mr. Olaf’s get the job done progressed above 40 decades to embrace substantial-end studio and vogue images as properly as formal portraiture. The Dutch royal spouse and children commissioned him to shoot their portraits many moments.
He became identified internationally as a single of the Netherlands’ 3 most significant present-day photographers — together with Rineke Dijkstra and Anton Corbijn. To the Dutch he was seen as a nationwide treasure.
“We think about him a ‘Hollandse meester,’” a Dutch master, mentioned Mattie Increase, pictures curator at the Rijksmuseum, the countrywide museum in Amsterdam. “He was creating paintings with the digicam.”
Erwin Olaf Springveld was born on July 2, 1959, to Simon Jacobus Springveld, a sales supervisor for an workplace materials company, and Lydia van ’t Hoff, a homemaker, in Hilversum, about 20 miles west of Amsterdam. He graduated from the School for Journalism in Utrecht, intending to become a documentary photographer.
He moved to Amsterdam when he was 19 and lived in a squat, a setting up taken about by artists, even though volunteering for the Dutch magazine Sek, the official publication of the homosexual and lesbian activist group COC Nederland.
He acquired his first paid out task as a photographer in 1984 chronicling Amsterdam nightlife and the gay community with his Nikon 35-millimeter digicam for Vinyl, a new wave audio magazine. He jettisoned his past identify, Springveld, and went by Erwin Olaf thereafter.
“He started off getting a major photographer of the gay scene, but that was much too limited for Erwin,” reported Wim van Sinderen, his previous editor at Vinyl who afterwards turned a curator of the Fotomuseum Den Haag, in The Hague, where he exhibited Mr. Olaf’s get the job done. “He was hot then, and he ongoing to be incredibly very hot for a long time. He managed to hold up his track record in the course of 40 a long time.”
In 1983, Sek magazine assigned Mr. Olaf to shoot portraits of Hans van Manen, a major Dutch choreographer who was also a photographer. The two adult men formulated a near friendship that would previous for many years.
Mr. van Manen broadened Mr. Olaf’s inventive horizons, introducing him to artists this sort of as the designer Benno Premsela and the artwork photographer Paul Blanca. “In these several years, our romance was like a learn and a pupil,” Mr. Olaf stated of Mr. van Manen in a 2021 interview for a ebook of dance photos the two generated alongside one another, “Dance in Near-Up.”
The most significant impact on Mr. Olaf’s function was Robert Mapplethorpe, the paragon of studio pictures, whom Mr. Olaf achieved although Mr. Mapplethorpe was visiting Amsterdam. He was in particular taken with Mr. Mapplethorpe’s use of square structure illustrations or photos, a method also utilized by Peter Hujar and Diane Arbus for their portrait get the job done.
Mr. Olaf shortly purchased a secondhand Hasselblad camera that, as Mr. van Manen stated, designed these “nice 6-by-6 neat structure photos, with no grittiness, quite distinct and incredibly useful.”
Not long afterward, Mr. Olaf found a tiny studio in another art squat, hung up a curtain and began to shoot his initial staged photographs, using individuals in his instant circle, such as disco queens and punks. He favored gender-bending costumes reflecting the queer, S&M and drag lifestyle of his era. The Hasselblad gave a “classical contact to his pretty nonclassical imagery,” Mr. van Sinderen reported.
“We simply call it visible activism,” Ms. den Hartog claimed. “Erwin always tried using to convey his anger and his criticisms of society by means of his work.”
Ms. Growth, of the Rijksmuseum, said that staged pictures was atypical of the period, especially in the Netherlands, wherever documentary pictures was in vogue.
Mr. Olaf realized global awareness for the very first time in 1988, when he gained the Younger European Photographer of the Calendar year award for his series “Chessmen,” black-and-white visuals of individuals remodeled into baroque chess pieces. An exhibition for “Chessmen” followed at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany, his very first big solo exhibition.
In the mid-1990s, Mr. Olaf switched to digital photography, creating a number of photographic series. During that time he also set up a profession as a professional photographer, creating ads for trend manufacturers like Diesel and Bottega Veneta and the businesses Heineken and Nokia.
Mr. Olaf’s main work was constantly portraiture, even if his subjects ended up positioned in elaborate sets and carrying fantastical costumes. The Dutch creator Arthur Japin, whom Mr. Olaf photographed as a lion, stated sitting for him could come to feel liberating.
“When you had been with him you had been knowledgeable that he saw certainly anything about you, but that he did not choose,” Mr. Japin mentioned. “That’s why persons opened up to him. Some individuals would definitely go considerably when they had been photographed by him.”
Mr. van Sinderen explained that in the early 2000s Mr. Olaf’s noncommercial pictures took on “a form of uber-kitch made feasible by Photoshop,” but that he modified path following an American museum curator criticized his operate as “Eurotrash.”
He began to check out the performs of Norman Rockwell and modern day painters, specially Lucien Freud, as nicely as the cinematic realism of the Italian filmmaker Luchino Visconti, whom he admired for the “incredible sadness” of his flicks, Ms. den Hartog reported.
In the end, Mr. Olaf grew to become recognised for a sort of beautiful stillness and perfectionist polish, attributes that had been highlighted in a double exhibition in The Hague on the event of his 60th birthday in 2019.
That same year, the Rijksmuseum exhibited a dozen of his functions in discussion with an equivalent selection of Golden Age learn paintings by Rembrandt, Gerard ter Borch and many others. They were selected from a lot more than 500 photos of Mr. Olaf’s that the Rijksmuseum acquired the previous yr.
Over the several years Mr. Olaf designed good friends from a broad assortment of social circles, which include that of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, who in a statement explained they mourned the decline of a “quirky, extremely gifted photographer and a fantastic artist.”
Mr. Olaf is survived by his partner, Kevin Edwards, whom he married in 2016, and his two brothers, Jos and Ron Springveld.
Mr. Olaf was hopeful that his lung transplant last month would increase yrs to his daily life, reported Ms. Increase. “We talked fairly a short while ago, during the summer season, and he was comprehensive of ideas,” she mentioned. “After the procedure, he even though he would continue on for a further 10 a long time, and he experienced heaps of tips.”