Book Launch: Erwin Olaf | April Fool 2020

Galerie Ron Mandos, MENDO, and Studio Erwin Olaf are proud to present the publication of Erwin Olaf, April Fool 2020. This stunning new book designed by MENDO contains all photographic works from April Fool 2020, as well as some explanatory texts and an interview between Erwin Olaf and Erik van Ginkel, Managing Director of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.


April Fool 2020 by Erwin Olaf is a visual documentation of the current coronavirus pandemic, a reminder of the fear and difficult position we may find ourselves in. While that may sound very grim and depressing, this new body of work encompasses much more than that. It’s an intimate series, involving Erwin Olaf himself in almost every scene, each of which is impressively stylized and meticulously choreographed in his characteristic style. The photographs are simultaneously personal and universal. Above all, the essence is the feeling the series expresses: how we are all affected by this crisis. The person wearing the pointed could be you or me.

This idea of a clown with pointed hat and a white face was a translation of a feeling I’d never felt or seen before.” – Erwin Olaf


Upcoming Event: Book Launch at MENDO

Saturday 12th of December: 10.00 – 18.00 hrs
Sunday 13th of December: 10.00 – 17.00 hrs
Location: MENDO, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 10, Amsterdam

Galerie Ron Mandos and Studio Erwin Olaf are also happy to invite you to the book launch of April Fool 2020. On Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th of December, MENDO will be open to the public for a very special book launch. In the flagship store of MENDO in Amsterdam, there will be a small presentation of Olaf’s photographic works from April Fool.

For more information or questions about the book launch, please contact our gallery director Nick Majoor-Arie:

ABOUT Erwin Olaf

Erwin Olaf (1959-2023) was known for his diverse practice that centered around society’s marginalized individuals, including people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community. In 2019, Olaf became a Knight of the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands after 500 works from his oeuvre were added to the collection of the Rijksmuseum. Taco Dibbits, Rijksmuseum director, called Olaf “one of the most important photographers of the final quarter of the 20th century”.

In 2018, Olaf completed a triptych of monumental photographic and filmic tableaux portraying periods of seismic change in major world cities, and the citizens embraced and othered by their urban progress. Like much of his work, it is contextualized by complex race relations, the devastation of economic divisions, and the complications of sexuality. Olaf maintained an activistic approach to equality throughout his 40-year career after starting out documenting pre-AIDS gay liberation in Amsterdam’s nightlife in the 1980s.

A bold and sometimes controversial approach earned the artist a number of prestigious collaborations, from Vogue and Louis Vuitton, to the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. He served as the official portrait artist for the Dutch royal family in 2017, and designed the national side of the euro coins for King Willem-Alexander in 2013. He was awarded the Netherlands’ prestigious Johannes Vermeer Award, as well as Photographer of the Year at the International Color Awards, and Kunstbeeld magazine’s Dutch Artist of the Year. In 2023, His Majesty the King Willem-Alexander awarded him the Medal of Honor for Art and Science of the Order of the House of Orange.

Erwin Olaf exhibited worldwide, including Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Málaga, Spain; Museu da Imagem e do Som, São Paulo, Brazil; Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany; Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA; and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Santiago, Chile. In the spring of 2019, Olaf’s work was the subject of a double exhibition at Kunstmuseum The Hague and The Hague Museum of Photography, as well as a solo exhibition at the Shanghai Center of Photography. In 2021, Erwin Olaf had his first solo exhibition Im Wald at Galerie Ron Mandos and mounted a large survey exhibition at Kunsthalle München, Germany.

Olaf’s work is included in numerous private and public collections, such as the Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum, both in Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Paris, France; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany; Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar, The Netherlands; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, United States; Art Progressive Collection, United States; and the Pushkin Museum, Moscow, Russia.

Visit the artist’s website here.