Erwin Olaf (Erwin Olaf Springveld) is a Dutch photographer. Mixing photojournalism with studio photography, Olaf emerged in the international art scene in 1988 when his series 'Chessmen' was awarded the first prize in the Young European Photographer competition. This award was followed by an exhibition at the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany. Since then Olaf has continued to explore issues of gender, sensuality, humor, despair and grace in each successive series.
Printing his early work in documentary style black-and-white, he first gradually introduced color and then digital manipulation. Video and film offered him new possibilities to explore. His first film Tadzio (1991, co-directed with painter F. Franciscus) was soon followed by comic videos for children's television, short documentaries, music clips and commissions by the Dutch National Ballet. Recently Olaf has created autonomous video works like Separation, Rain and Grief, starring models who also appear in the accompanying photo series. In the films they play a different character, as though his moving images provide a parallel history to his color photographs.
His work has been shown in many institutions like the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Frankfurter Kunstverein, the MOCCA in Toronto, Galleria Arte Moderna in Bologna, the Montevideo Institute in Amsterdam, the Sztuki Museum in Lodz, Poland, the Chelsea Art Museum in New York, the Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney, the George Eastman House in New York, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, the Southeastern Centre For Contemporary Art in North Carolina, the Museum of Modern Art in Moscow and Space E6 in Shenzhen, China.