Erwin Olaf: Online Exhibition

Click here to view the full selection in the online exhibition space and watch two short video clips of Erwin.


Renowned Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf started his career as a photojournalist documenting the nightlife of the 1980s. Today, Olaf exhibits internationally with 40 year's worth of work that often centres around society's marginalised individuals. In 2018 he completed a three part series of monumental photographic and filmic tableaux portraying periods of seismic change in three cities (Berlin, Shanghai and most recently, Palm Springs) and the citizens caught up in them. Like much of Olaf's work, it is contextualised by complex race relations, the complications of sexuality, and the devastation of economic divisions. For Olaf's own insights, you can watch a short video about the recent 'Palm Springs' series at the bottom of this page.


A bold and sometimes controversial approach has earned Olaf a number of prestigious collaborations, from Vogue and Louis Vuitton, to 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. Over his 40-year career, he has been awarded numerous awards and most recently, in 2018, the Rijksmuseum acquired five hundred key artworks over Olaf’s forty-year career for their collection. In July 2019, to mark the transfer of his core collection to the museum, The Rijksmuseum opened the exhibition 12x Erwin Olaf in which his work was placed in dialogue with Dutch paintings from the museum’s collection. The opening celebrations took place on the artist’s 60th birthday, when Olaf was named Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion, a Dutch order of chivalry awarded to those with merits of a very exceptional nature for society. The photographer was distinguished in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam for his leading photos and his commitment to the LGBTQ community, according to the municipality of Amsterdam. Taco Dibbits, Rijksmuseum director, called Olaf "one of the most important photographers of the final quarter of the 20th century".


Hamiltons has represented Olaf for over a decade, most recently presenting Erwin Olaf: Women in 2019. This viewing room presents work from across Erwin's many series, giving an insight into his vast oeuvre.