ERWIN OLAF: The Power of Imagination
Orientation Sunday, May 6th, 4:30pm – 5:30pm
Monday, May 7th – Wednesday, May 9th. 9:00am – 6:00pm
Thursday, May 10th, 9:00-11:00am (Optional)
This is a rare opportunity to spend 3+ days with one of Europe’s acknowledged masters of the medium.
As Erwin says, “I’m going to show the attendees a little bit of my kitchen” which is a wonderful way to express his openness to discussing his process, his techniques and his methods that have made his such a remarkable and successful career. The class will focus on achieving individual identity and style as a photographer. He will delve into his process for creating his unique style and visual identity as well as be very open about his techniques that combine to make such unusual and memorable images.
On the first day, Erwin will explore his body of work with the class, presenting his still and video work. He will spend time with each attendee’s portfolios in a class critique that will benefit all present. He will give an assignment for the class which will be executed the following day with all present. Erwin will be on-hand to work with each photographer and offer suggestions. The class will photograph each other, create still-lives, tableau and portraiture. This will take place in a studio or on location in an interesting environment.
The following morning (Day Three) there will be a critique of the work made on Day Two followed by another class photo session.
The fourth day morning session will be devoted to reviewing the work and progress made by the class.
In a recent interview for Petapixel by Ken Weingart, the great Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf said, “My personal work is the most important to me right now. There was a time when the commercial work allowed me freedom to do my personal work, but now the personal work does that in itself, which is great. I like commercial work, as long as it is challenging and inspiring. Editorial is not really more interesting than advertising, its just a different field. It is also exciting, but totally different, with a different agenda.”
“By visualizing and taking the proper time to light someone or something. You use your eyes and learn by trial and error. It’s called painterly, because I used one light when I started out, and painters usually have only one main light.”
Olaf creates images for art & commerce that originate in his mind – from ideas drawn from his life. Attendees will see how they can mine their own experience to visualize mages that can then be created. This class will be about finding ideas and executing them perfectly – about looking at fascinations, obsessions and fantasies.
This class is limited to 16 attendees
Dutch multidisciplinary artist Erwin Olaf,is a veteran of editorial and commercial photography, having worked for clients such as Italian luxury brand Bottega Veneta, Vogue and The New York Times. In his art photography he often puts the conventions of fashion photography into the service of beautifully complex, often existentially terse portraiture. His emphasis is on precision in all of the visual elements — painterly lighting, flawless hair and make-up, settings that create an allure of serenity — but these highly stylised, polished depictions always have a subtext, addressing social issues, societal taboos and gender politics.
Olaf found inspiration for many series of art photographs in his own life, from the experience of growing older (‘Mature’, 1998) his relationship with his mother (‘Separation’, 2003) or traveling and staying in various hotel rooms (‘Hotel’, 2010). In the series ‘Rain'(2004), ‘Hope’ (2005), ‘Grief’ (2007) and ‘Fall’ (2008) he explored, and challenged, the notion of domestic bliss. ‘Dusk'(2009) and ‘Dawn’ (2010) indicated how culture can become repression, despite a beautiful appearance. Some of his more recent series, such as ‘Berlin’ (2012), ‘Waiting’ (2014) ‘Tamed & Anger’ (2015) and ‘Skin Deep’ (2015), push the boundaries of his earlier studio work and explore new physical and emotional territory.
Born in Hilversum, the Netherlands, Olaf was educated at the Utrecht School for Journalism and first emerged on the international art scene in 1988, when his series ‘Chessmen’ won first price in the Young European Photographer competition. Since then, he has won numerous other international art and media prizes, such as Photographer of the Year in the International Colour Awards in 2006, Kunstbeeld magazine’s Artist of the Year of the Netherlands in 2007, a Dutch Johannes Vermeer Prize in 2011 and a Lucie Award from the United States for his entire oeuvre. Olaf has also earned several Silver Lions for his commercial photography.
Olaf has been involved in scores of group shows, and has had solo exhibitions at many major museums including the Bilbao Art Centre in Spain, the Modern Art Gallery of Bologna in Italy, the Museum of Modern Art in Moscow, The Hague Museum of Photography and the Rijksmuseum. He also designed the Dutch euro coins that have been in circulation since 2014, both featuring a portrait of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. In 1987 Olaf began working with film, and in recent years his films have been screened at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Museum at FIT in New York.
Olaf’s work is represented in several major exhibitions in 2016. Until 1 May, Centro de Arte Contemporaneo Malaga in Spain will host a solo show featuring works from Olaf’s series ‘Berlin’, ‘Keyhole’, ‘Grief’ and ‘Hope’. And until 20 April, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow exhibits a solo show of works from his series Les Derniers Hosneurs Rendus Aux Infortunes Illustrisismes Comtes D’Egmont Et De Horne, an homage to 19th century Belgian painter Louis Gallait, alongside the original paintings that inspired the photographs. Olaf has also designed the Rijksmuseum’s exhibition Catwalk, a large selection of the Amsterdam museum’s fashion collection, on show until 15 May.