Catalogue: Dance in Close-Up

Exclusive art project by photographer Erwin Olaf and choreographer Hans van Manen offering a unique view on dance and photography

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This new catalogue contains all images from Dance in Close-Up, as well as text contributions from the authors Nina Siegal and Michael James Gardner.

32 x 31 cm
120 pages
Linen hardcover
English edition
ISBN 978 94 6436 627 3

The grand master of Dutch dance, Hans van Manen, celebrates his ninetieth birthday this year. That has given rise to international celebrations by leading ballet companies with the Hans van Manen festival from 8 to 29 June 2022, the exclusive publication Dance in Close-Up and the exhibition of the same name in Galerie Ron Mandos in Amsterdam from 19 June to 24 July 2022.

From the 1970s to the 1990s, Hans van Manen was not only one of the world’s leading choreographers, but also an internationally acclaimed photographer. It was during this period that the then very young photographer Erwin Olaf met the famed artist, who immediately took him under his wing and introduced him to the world of the visual arts and studio photography.

This book celebrates their forty years of friendship, with a photo series in which Van Manen directs moments from his choreographic career, recorded with the utmost precision by Erwin Olaf.

“Ballet inspires me. Human beings have the capacity to express themselves through many art forms, but when it comes to dance – and especially classical modern ballet – I am always amazed by that unbelievably elevated form of expression. It’s so precise and so incredibly skilled; I admire that enormously.” — Photographer and filmmaker Erwin Olaf

“The fact that the photographer is looking through the camera lens means they have a different perspective from looking directly at the figure. That is voyeuristic. The camera can do something that the audience member can’t: zooming in for a close-up.” — Choreographer Hans van Manen

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.