Erwin Olaf & Hans Op de Beeck: Inspired by Steichen

Now on view at Musée National d’Histoire et d’Art in Luxembourg: Erwin Olaf & Hans Op de Beeck: Inspired by Steichen. Out of appreciation for each other and their shared admiration for Steichen’s oeuvre, Erwin Olaf and Hans Op de Beeck agreed to collaborate on a project for the first time ever. The exhibition is running from December 16, 2022 through June 6, 2023.

The exhibition features Olaf’s series Im Wald, together with watercolors and sculptures by Op de Beeck and landscape photographs by Steichen himself, creating surprising connections between the three artists. Although very different, they come together like virtuoso musicians, creating a new harmony, a richly variegated presentation of imagery in black, white and grey tones that is strikingly unified and self-evident. For more information click the link below.

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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.

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ABOUT Hans Op de Beeck

Hans Op de Beeck was born in 1969 in Turnhout, Belgium. He lives and works in Brussels, Belgium.

Hans Op de Beeck produces large installations, sculptures, films, drawings, paintings, photographs and texts. His work is a reflection on our complex society and the universal questions of meaning and mortality that resonate within it. He regards man as a being who stages the world around him in a tragi-comic way. Above all, Op de Beeck is keen to stimulate the viewers’ senses, and invite them to really experience the image. He seeks to create a form of visual fiction that delivers a moment of wonder and silence.

Over the past twenty years Op de Beeck realized numerous monumental ‘sensorial’ installations, in which he evoked what he describes as ‘visual fictions’: tactile deserted spaces as an empty set for the viewer to walk through or sit down in, sculpted havens for introspection. In many of his films though, in contrast with those depopulated spaces, he prominently depicts anonymous characters.

Hans Op de Beeck was born in Turnhout in 1969. He lives and works in Brussels, Belgium. Op de Beeck has shown his work extensively in solo and group exhibitions around the world.

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