Erwin Olaf

Initials E.
Member of Society of Arts


Erwin Olaf (born in 1959) achieved international acclaim with his Chessmen (1988) series, which earned him first prize in the Young European Photographer competition. His highly stylised, disturbing images draw attention to social issues, taboos and bourgeois conventions. While his early work was daring and provocative, his later series, Hope and Grief, zoom in on human vulnerability and loneliness. His conceptually alluring style has made him a leading advertising photographer for such major labels as Louis Vuitton and for publications such as Vogue and The New York Times. In addition to photography, Olaf also regards film as an important means of artistic expression.

He has been awarded several prizes for individual works or his entire oeuvre, including the USA’s Lucie Award (2008) and the Johannes Vermeerprijs (2011), the Netherlands’ national prize for the arts. In 2013, Erwin Olaf created the portrait of the Netherlands’ new monarch, King Willem Alexander, which will appear on the Dutch issue of the euro coin.