woensdag 30 mei 2018

Portraits Suriname A new Nation in South America C.F.A. Bruijning Photography

Bruijning, [dr.] C.F.A. en [dr.] Lou Lichtveld [= Albert Helman]
Suriname; A new nation in South America
Uitgever: Amsterdam: Wetenschappelijke Uitgeverij / Paramaribo: Radhakishun & Co

zaterdag 26 mei 2018

Views & Reviews On his Photos of Celebrities you can see every Wrinkle Pore and Pimple Big reads Martin Schoeller Photography

Martin Schoeller is one of the preeminent portrait photographers of our time. This exhibition of his work at the Nederlands Fotomuseum is the first ever held in the Netherlands. Schoeller owes his international acclaim to his iconic Close Up series, on which he has worked ceaselessly for over twenty years. The series contains visuals of both famous and lesser-known subjects, all taken in extreme close-up. Using the same lens, lighting and angle, the result is a series of portraits unbound by their contexts. Schoeller’s subjects include international icons such as George Clooney, Lady Gaga, Angelina Jolie, Angela Merkel, Jack Nicholson, Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg.

New York-based photographer Martin Schoeller is best-known for his ‘big head’ portraits: full-frontal, hyper-detailed close-ups of faces printed in large format. In this much-lauded Close Up series, Schoeller photographs well-known politicians, actors, musicians and sports personalities.

Martin Schoeller | Big Heads is scheduled to run from 19 May to 2 September at the Nederlands Fotomuseum. At the opening on 18 May, a new ‘big head’ portrait - this time including a Dutch celebrity - will be unveiled in the presence of the photographer. In addition to the photographs from the Close Up series, the exhibition will include visuals from three of Schoeller’s other portrait series.

By Aline Smithson February 18, 2015


Photographer and writer Ken Weingart has been producing interviews for his Art and Photography blog, and he has kindly offered to share a few with the Lenscratch audience over the next few months.  Today, Ken shares an interview with Martin Schoeller, the a highly successful German portrait photographer who just finished a show called Portraits at the prestigious Hasted Kraeutler Art Gallery in New York City.

Martin Schoeller was born in Munich, Germany, in 1968. Growing up in Germany, he was deeply influenced by August Sander’s countless portraits of the poor, the working class, and the bourgeoisie, as well as by Bernd and Hilla Becher, who spawned a school known as the Becher-Schüler. Schoeller worked as an assistant to Annie Leibovitz from 1993 to 1996. He advanced as a freelance photographer, producing portraits of people he met on the street. The work gained recognition for its strong visual impact and since 1998, his work has appeared in Rolling Stone, GQ, Esquire, Entertainment Weekly, and W, among other publications.

Schoeller joined Richard Avedon as a contributing portrait photographer at The New Yorker in 1999, where he continues to produce his award-winning images. His portraits are exhibited and collected internationally, including in several solo exhibitions in Europe and the United States and are included in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. In addition, he has had many solo exhibitions throughout the U.S. and Europe and group exhibitions in the U.S.

Schoeller’s honors include the 1999-2008 Communication Arts Photo Annual; the 1998-2008 American Photography Photo Annual; the 2001-2008 Photo District News Photo Annual; the 2008 Best Portrait Award from American Photo Images of the Year; Photojournalism Finalist from the American Society of Magazine Editors; National Magazine Awards for “The Interpreter” in The New Yorker; Photography Cover Finalist from the Society of Publication Designers for “American Gangster” in Entertainment Weekly; 2006 Best Celebrity Cover, Second Place, Magazine Publishers of America for “Steve Carell,” in Premiere magazine; the 2004 Gold Medal from the Society of Publication Designers for “Tigers of the Snow: Three Generations of Great Climbing Sherpas” in Outside magazine; National Magazine Awards: Photo Portfolio/Essay; American Society of Magazine Editors for “Tigers of the Snow: Three Generations of Great Climbing Sherpas” in Outside magazine; 2002 Silver Medal from the Society of Publication Designers for “Hip Hop Portfolio” in The New Yorker; 2001 Gold Medal from the Society of Publication Designers for “Sports Portfolio” in The New Yorker; 2000 Silver Medal from the Society of Publication Designers for “Cheerleaders” in Rolling Stone; and Best New Talent, Life magazine Alfred Eisenstaedt Awards.

He lives and works in New York City.

How did you start with photography? How old were you when you started, and what were you doing before that?

I finished high school in Germany and didn’t have an idea of what I wanted to be. Education in Germany is free, so I enrolled in college. Even so, I hardly ever went. I worked with a handicapped man who had multiple sclerosis. I took care of him, went on vacation with him, washed and fed him. I was basically a social worker. At night, I was a bartender and a waiter. There are advantages in the European education system; you have health insurance, and you can earn money without paying taxes. A friend of mine was applying to a photography school in Berlin and said, “Why don’t you apply with me? Maybe they’ll take us both, and we can go together.”


I had thought of photographers being geeks until that point. Whenever I organized a high school party, the photographers would stand in the corner, wait for anyone to embarrass themselves, run out and take snapshots. I never liked photographers much; I always thought of them as voyeurs. But my friend applied for the school, and I thought, “Why not? Maybe it will be cool.” My attitude was that they were not likely to accept me anyway. The chances were one in twenty, and 800 people applied. They gave us certain assignments, and I fulfilled all of these assignments in the time they gave us. In the end, they accepted me and not my friend.

Did you have a talent as a visual artist you never knew you had?

I was overwhelmed that they accepted me. Looking back, I don’t think my pictures were any better than my friends. Yet for some reason, I was selected. I was flattered. I felt like, “Oh my God. Maybe this is something that I could be good at if I really try hard.” My dad always said that I had a good eye. I didn’t know what he meant by that, but he always felt I had a good sense for furniture and spaces and design; good taste.


Later you came to New York and assisted Annie Leibovitz. How did that come about, and what did you learn?

When I finished photography school, I assisted a still life photographer in Frankfurt, and then I went on to work for a very famous photographer in Hamburg, who fired me after three months. I was completely overwhelmed by the situation. I had no idea that anyone could work that hard. The workload and responsibility were incredible. It was a combination of things that didn’t work out. What I took away from that was since assisting is so much work for so little money, you need to work for someone you respect and would like to be like one day. My three favorite photographers at the time were Annie Leibovitz, Steven Meisel, and Irving Penn.

I saved up $2,000, moved to New York, and called them all up. Nothing happened. I ran out of money and had to return home and work for the handicapped man again. I came back a few months later after I had saved some money, and found a job working for free for a month for a still life photographer. He knew somebody who worked in Annie’s studio, and things came together. I had sent so many applications and eventually somebody at Annie’s told me to come by and introduce myself. And at the time, Annie had just fired somebody. The first assistant really liked me. He told Annie that he thought I would be a good assistant, so I started as a third assistant and worked for her for three years.


Did you become a second or first assistant later?

Yes. Shortly after I started the second assistant left, and not long after that the first assistant left. I was caught again in a situation where I was completely in over my head. That made for pretty tense work with Annie.

Was it intense work as the first assistant?

Yeah, it was very intense. You learn so much working with Annie because she gives away so much responsibility. I was in charge of lighting for her. She’s very peculiar about her lighting, but she’s not very technical. She doesn’t always know how to achieve what she wants, but she knows what she wants – which is the most important part. The issue was that sometimes I wasn’t able to make her happy with it, and she would say, “No I don’t like this lighting.” I tried very hard to please her, but wasn’t always successful.


So you learned a lot from her. I heard she learned her lighting from her assistants.

Yeah, but my predecessors left so shortly after I started that I didn’t have time to learn from them.

It was tough, but did you learn a lot?

I learned so much from her. I always say I would never have had the career that I had without having worked with her.

Did the contacts help parley into your first job?

No, I think contacts from working photographers are often overrated. Working with Annie, you’re working with the kinds of magazines that would not be hiring you as a young photographer. No photographer gets their first job from Vanity Fair or advertising agencies. There might be an exception to it in the fashion world, but starting out as a photographer you start with business magazines and a smaller budget.


You were on your own, but her name didn’t help in the beginning?

It helped me a little bit. People were always curious to hear what was occurring behind the scene at Annie’s studio. It probably helped to get me more in-person interviews when they heard I worked with Annie Leibovitz. However, every photo editor is ultimately responsible for the pictures you deliver, and they don’t want to show the editor-in-chief a mediocre photograph.

You had to have the work.

Yeah, you have to have the work.

Where did your fine artwork ideas come from, such as the Twins and Female Body Builders? What was the motivation to do those series?

The female bodybuilders came from an assistant of mine. He loved bodybuilding, though I couldn’t say the same. He showed me a magazine one day and I came across these female bodybuilders and I was just in shock. Why would a woman do something like that to themselves, to basically look more like a man? I went to a body building competition with my friend and spoke to some of the ladies. I saw that they were often mothers with kids and full-time jobs. I felt very intrigued. I found the way they looked and their life stories interesting, so I spent five years finding these professional female bodybuilders at all different competitions around the country.


Where did the idea for the twins come from?

The twins were an assignment for National Geographic. National Geographic did an issue on twins and hired me to photograph them. When I first heard about the assignment, I thought, “Oh my God, twins. Isn’t that the oldest thing in photography?” But I don’t say no to National Geographic; they’re a great magazine. They sent me to Twinsburg, Ohio, where they have a twin festival every year. When I took the first Polaroid’s and put them side by side, the pull of two different people that looked so eerily similar made me I feel like, “Hmm, maybe this is something different.” It was the idea of photographing twins separately and not together as one entity. I found it more and more fascinating. After the assignment was done, everybody seemed so intrigued by these twins, so I continued the work. I found two sets of twins where one of them had a sex change operation. I found identical quadruplets, which is extremely rare. Then I developed this whole thing into a book; that’s how that book came about.

How rewarding do you find fine artwork compared to commercial assignments?

I don’t really think much about the terms fine art and artist and photographer. I see myself as a photographer. I think I’m more of a photographer than an artist because I think the goal of a true artist should be to come up with an idea that’s never been done before. That’s my definition of an artist. I think there are very few photographers that I would call artists. I think most of them are just photographers. Well, not just photographers, but they don’t fit the bill of artists. That’s why there’s not that much photography in museums.


Would you say the definitions are assignment-commercial, and then artist?

I think a lot of people take gratification from the fact that they consider themselves artists; it becomes a big part of their identity. I don’t feel that need. I’m not ashamed of doing advertising work. I’m happy to see my work in museums and being sold in galleries. As a photographer, you just try to create the best work you can no matter what the assignment is.

What are the pros and cons of being so busy? Are there any cons to it?

I think what people underestimate is that the more assignments you have, the more crew you need. There’s a responsibility you have to your employees. You find yourself in situations where you have to make a lot of money to keep this machine that you’ve built. I once heard, when I was working with Annie, that she had 50 or $80,000 of overhead a month to clear just to break even. That was 20 years ago, too. You have to make a lot of money just to break even. You have to make even more to keep some for yourself. It does get easier, but not really. If someone is a one-man operation, he gets to keep all the profits.

Is it hard to turn down work at that point?

I consider myself very fortunate that I have continuously had so much work. But it’s often not the case that I have three jobs a week. As a photographer who’s been around for a long time, you’re a little bit taken for granted. People love your work, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they give you work. You come with certain associations. For example, maybe you did an expensive shoot for somebody three years ago when magazines had more money. My fees are the same as everybody else’s, but maybe I did a prop intense shoot. Now everybody thinks of you as being an expensive photographer. Also, people like to discover new people. They don’t necessarily want to hire somebody who works for the competition.


So there’s never a point where you can coast along though Annie kind of has that, with her contracts. But that’s very rare.

It’s very rare, yeah. Those contracts can always expire at the end of a year. There are no guarantees in photography. I always tell young photographers, “Don’t think you have a Vanity Fair cover, and you’re done; you’re only as good as your last photograph.” You can take ten great pictures, and people will say you’re good. However, that’s what they expect from you. If you take two or three bad pictures, people remember those more than they remember the good ones.

How did you meet Hasted Kraeutler?

I don’t quite remember how they found me, or if I found them. It’s been so long that I forgot how we were introduced.

Is the relationship going well? They’ve handled a few of your shows.

Everything is going good. The thing with the personal projects is that if you break it down financially, they are a complete money pit. You’re never going to recuperate the money that you spend on those pictures.


Shows are expensive?

Oh, yeah. I probably spent $250,000 on the body builder project. I never even wanted to add it up. I think I sold maybe three prints for $10,000 each. The gallery gets half, so I made $15,000 in print sales.

That’s a true labor of love.

Yeah. That’s why I always tell young photographers that being a fine arts photographer is not that great of an idea; there’s very few that can make a living from it.

Are you thinking about any personal fine art projects right now?

I had one project that I put on hold. I have a five-year-old at home, and I have a hard time leaving him for a long time. But maybe this coming year I might go and visit another indigenous group – hopefully for National Geographic – and put that together as a book one day.


What country would you visit?

We’ll see. Probably the Amazon again. Or Brazil again. But we’ll see.

What kind of equipment do you use in terms of cameras and lighting?

I still shoot all my close-ups on film with an RZ, 6×7 and 140, on Portra 800.

So film still gives you something you prefer.

Yeah. I also have a Phase One camera. I used to shoot everything on film until about three years ago. My favorite camera of all time must be the Fuji 6×9, with the 90mm lens.


Why is that?

Because it’s super sharp, super light, you get a huge negative. It’s a rangefinder camera. It’s like an oversize Leica. I find it easy to focus. I just always loved that camera. I have five of them. I used to use them exclusively for all horizontal pictures. I used an RZ for verticals and Fuji 6×9 for horizontals.

Why do you have five?

I would take three on the road, but some would be broken. I have one in repair, one that I thought needed replacing, and then I gave one to my assistant when he left. I probably bought more like seven or eight.

Do you shoot digitally too?

Yeah, now I switched over to digital. I always preached analog photography because I felt that the skin tones are better with film; it’s more forgiving, and it’s more natural-looking; more three dimensional if you photograph on film. My former assistant talked me into trying these digital cameras, and we tried a bunch of them. I came across the Phase One – back then it was a Mamiya with the Phase One back – and I have to say that it was the first time I felt that the skin tones actually looked really good.

How long ago was that?

About three years ago.


So you use digital for medium format – you don’t do 35mm?

I have a digital Nikon, but I rarely ever use it. I use it if I have to photograph anything high speed like running or jumping; things where you have to be able to shoot ten frames a second. Normally I shoot with the IQ280 film back of 80 megapixels. It’s a big pain in the ass sometimes. But when the camera works and everything works, it’s like shooting 4×5 almost.

Did you shoot 4×5 ever?

No, but I shot 8×10 a lot. All the body builders I shot on 8×10. That’s why the project was so expensive.

What company do you use for lighting, and what specific lights do you use? I know you use Kino’s.

I use the Kino Flo’s for my close-up. For strobe I use the Profoto Acute’s. They’re more lightweight and easier to travel with. But ultimately anything that flashes is fine by me.

Have you tried the Profoto monolights, the D1s?

No, I never tried those. I’m always worried that my lights might fall over.


How do you like living in the U.S. versus Germany? What do you like or not like about the U.S, and what do you miss about Germany?

Whenever I’m here, I praise Germany, and the equality in Germany. The whole infrastructure works: 80% of people are in a union, everybody has health insurance, the economy is doing fantastic, you can go anywhere by train, the highways are better, and the discrepancy between rich and poor is not as drastic, and we don’t have any wars. Living in New York City, I sometimes feel like I’m living in a third world country. There are deep potholes in the middle of New York. And when you go to Queens there’s so much garbage on the road. I think, overall, that the European system is better than the American system; it’s fairer. But whenever I’m in Germany I want to come back to the United States because I miss the feeling of optimism and humor. Germans love to complain. It’s a little heavier and slower. It takes a half a day to fill out paperwork to rent equipment in Germany. It lacks the quickness and lightness of living in the States and the spontaneity that comes with it.

Are you a citizen now?

No, I still only have a green card. Germans don’t like dual citizenship.

Why not?

So many foreigners have abused the social system there. Someone will come to Germany, become a German citizen, and not work, yet collect the benefits. At some point, they cost the German society so much money that the government has told them they have to decide on one country or the other.

A lot of people assume that you’re friends with celebrities when you shoot them. But it’s rare that you are great friends with the subjects, correct?

Except for George Clooney. I can call him up anytime. No, I’m just kidding. I don’t know where people get that idea. They don’t call me to photograph them; it doesn’t work that way. Every single picture in my book is an assignment for a magazine. I couldn’t get any of these people on the phone, except for a few instances that I call the publicist and explain why I need to talk to the subject.

You are probably asked, “Are you friends with so and so..? Do you hang out with…”

Yeah. I don’t even want to hang out with them because they’re just like everybody else. Just because they’re famous doesn’t mean I have anything in common with them. I’m not friends with them, and I don’t see the need to be.

But people still assume that?

Some people assume that. They think famous people are more interesting or more fun. Having photographed them, you come to realize they’re just like everybody else. I have befriended April Bloomfield, the chef. I like her a lot; we hit it off. It’s not that I don’t think they would be fun to hang out with, but it’s a business transaction. You’re there to fulfill the need for a magazine, and they’re there to publicize whatever they’ve done. I’m not there to make friends.

Op zijn foto’s van beroemdheden zie je elke rimpel, porie en pukkel
Fotografie Martin Schoeller fotografeert vooral beroemdheden in hyperrealistische close-ups. Direct, nietsverhullend. Acteurs zijn het moeilijkst. „Ik zeg: ben gewoon jezelf. Dat vinden ze lastig.”

Rianne van Dijck
25 mei 2018

Donatella Versace, 2010
Foto: Martin Schoeller 

‘Vater!” Martin Schoeller omarmt zijn vader, die net met de trein is aangekomen uit Berlijn. Een paar minuten later loopt Lisa binnen, zijn assistente uit New York. „Did you have a good flight?” Een oude vriend uit Frankfurt wandelt met zijn echtgenote en een kinderwagen door de zalen – een hug voor hem, zoenen voor haar, de baby wordt bewonderd. „Ach, wie süß.”

Martin Schoeller is in het Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam waar deze avond zijn grote overzichtstentoonstelling ‘Big Heads’ opent. Terwijl technici en medewerkers druk bezig zijn met videoschermen en titelkaartjes, lopen familie en vrienden al rond in het museum om zijn werk te bekijken. Ze zijn naar Rotterdam gekomen voor de opening, maar vooral om de dag erna Schoellers 50ste verjaardag te vieren, met een rondvaart door de Amsterdamse grachten, een diner, daarna een dj. Ideaal, zegt Schoeller, in Duitsland geboren, al 25 jaar wonend in New York. „Dan hoeft niet iedereen naar Amerika te vliegen.”

Schoeller heeft nog een reden voor feest. Onlangs verscheen zijn zesde fotoboek, Close, met portretten die hij maakte tussen 2005 en 2018. Frontaal genomen, hyperrealistische close-ups. Direct, nietsverhullend, zo dicht op de huid gefotografeerd dat elke rimpel, elke porie, elke pukkel zichtbaar is. Een stijl die de beroemdste en machtigste mensen er niet van weerhield te poseren; van Julia Roberts en Adele, tot Frank Gehry en Marina Abramovic, Barack Obama, Julian Assange en Roger Federer, allemaal leverden ze zich over aan zijn genadeloze lens. Sommigen kunnen dat beter hebben dan anderen. Als je Taylor Swift bent en 24, fris en jeugdig, dan is er niets aan de hand. Ben je Donatella Versace, 55, dan wordt dat een ander verhaal. De opgespoten lippen, de volvette mascara en overdadige eyeliner, de ouderdomsvlekken – het is nogal confronterend.

Tweelingen en transgenders

Jack Nicholson, 2002.
Foto: Martin Schoeller

Wat vinden zijn modellen zelf van zijn directe stijl? „Geen idee”, zegt Schoeller – rastahaar, vale spijkerbroek, geruit overhemd over een grijs T-shirt – met een prominent Duits accent. „Daar houd ik me niet mee bezig. Ik ben er niet verantwoordelijk voor of mensen zichzelf aantrekkelijk vinden op mijn foto’s. Dat heb ik van Richard Avedon geleerd. Je moet je niet druk maken om wat iemand van zijn portret vindt. Je werkt niet voor die persoon. Je werkt voor een magazine. Of voor jezelf. Jij moet het zelf goed vinden.”

„Mensen, en dat bedoel ik meer algemeen, zijn sowieso bijna nooit blij met hun eigen portret”, zegt Schoeller. „Ze zijn zo kritisch op zichzelf. Vooral door sociale media is het portret overal. We voelen ons constant bekeken en beoordeeld. We laten ons alleen maar van onze beste kant zien. Er ontstaat een vertekend beeld. En ontevredenheid over het uiterlijk, omdat we ons constant spiegelen aan anderen.”

Lees ook: Rineke Dijkstra over het geheim van een goed portret
Schoeller kwam na een foto-opleiding in Duitsland in 1993 naar New York waar hij aan de slag ging als assistent van celebrity-fotograaf Annie Leibovitz. Na drie jaar begon hij voor zichzelf. In 1999 werd hij na Richard Avedon de tweede fotograaf in vaste dienst voor het blad The New Yorker.

Barack Obama, 2004.
Foto: Martin Schoeller

Een aantal van de portretten uit Close is deze zomer op enorme formaten te zien in het Nederlands Fotomuseum. Ook Schoellers serie over vrouwelijke bodybuilders hangt er, zijn tweelingen, een nieuwe serie over transgenders en Formule 1-coureurs, en de geestige portretten die hij maakte in opdracht van tijdschriften als Time, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, Vogue en National Geographic: Jay-Z als een Amerikaanse maffiosi in een New Yorks eettentje, „omdat hij zo graag flirt met zijn imago als gangsta”; Michael Douglas met make-up, vanwege zijn filmrol als pianist Liberace; Christian Bale met een doldrieste uitdrukking op zijn gezicht, dat vol zit met bloedspatters (American Psycho).

‘Jezelf zijn, dat vinden ze lastig’
„De meeste mensen laten zich niet graag fotograferen”, zegt Schoeller. „David Lynch zei: ‘Ik ga nog liever naar de tandarts.’ Sporters zijn makkelijk, die denken doorgaans minder na over hoe ze eruitzien en zijn vaak tevreden over hun eigen lichaam. Acteurs zijn het moeilijkst. Zo bewust van hoe ze overkomen. Weten precies wat een bepaalde gezichtsuitdrukking voor hen doet. Elk spiertje in hun gezicht lijkt getraind. Ik zeg: ben gewoon jezelf. Dat vinden ze lastig.

„Vooral actrices zijn onzeker over hoe ze eruitzien. Dat begrijp ik wel. Zeker als je niet jong meer bent, is de filmwereld hard. Er zijn weinig goede rollen voor vrouwen van boven de 35. Je snapt dat sommige vrouwen liever niet door mij gefotografeerd worden. Het is te direct, te onthullend.”

Lees ook: De godinnen van Helmut Newton, pionier in de modefotografie
Schoeller vond vooral inspiratie in het werk van Bernd en Hilla Becher, het Duitse fotografenechtpaar dat aan het fundament stond van de zogeheten Düsseldorfer Schule. Zij fotografeerden honderden watertorens, altijd in hetzelfde licht, altijd vanuit hetzelfde standpunt. „Saai, dacht ik toen ik het voor de eerste keer zag. Geniaal, vond ik later. Juist in die objectiviteit en herhaling zit een enorme kracht. Het nodigt uit tot vergelijken.”

Celebrities en daklozen

Brendon Hartley, 2016, Porsche AG.
Foto: Martin Schoeller

In de tentoonstelling, als je langs al die hoofden loopt, zit er soms een gezicht bij dat je niet herkent. Tussen de rich and famous hing Schoeller een aantal foto’s van daklozen, die hij al jarenlang fotografeert in West-Hollywood. Zo zien we de onbekende Ajeunique Graham tussen Clint Eastwood en Elon Musk. „Op precies dezelfde manier gefotografeerd als de sterren. Alleen ging dat een stuk makkelijker. Daklozen zijn zich niet zo overbewust van zichzelf.”

Schoeller vertelt over de grote invloed van een foto die hij ooit zag in een museum in Frankfurt. Een enorm familieportret in zwart-wit, lachende kinderen, tevreden ouders. „Toen zag ik dat de vader een uniform aanhad. Oh, er staat SS op de kraag. Toen keek ik op het bordje: Josef Mengele met familie. Ik was echt van mijn stuk gebracht. Niet alleen omdat het zijn portret was, maar omdat mijn eerste reactie was geweest: wat een leuke foto is dit. Toen begon ik me af te vragen: wat kan je nou eigenlijk zien in een gezicht? Door iedereen op eenzelfde manier te portretteren maak ik zo eerlijk mogelijke, objectieve beelden. Maar om nou te zeggen dat ik iemands ziel heb gevangen? Soms piept er een hint van iemands karakter doorheen. Of denken we dat maar?”

Martin Schoeller: Big Heads, t/m 2 september 2018 in het Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam. Martin Schoeller: Close. Mei 2018, boek uitgegeven door Steidl.

vrijdag 25 mei 2018

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam receives Core Collection Erwin Olaf Photography

Erwin Olaf & Taco Dibbits. Photo: Olivier Middendorp
May 25 2018 - 9:41 AM

The Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf this week donated to the Rijksmuseum his core collection, the fully representative range of work spanning his entire career. The Rijksmuseum will be the recipient of a total of 500 objects, comprising prints, portfolios, videos, magazines, books and posters. The vast majority are donations; 60 photographs and three videos have been acquired with the support of the BankGiro Loterij.

Taco Dibbits, director of the Rijksmuseum: Erwin Olaf is one of the most important photographers of the final quarter of the 20th century, and his work is deeply rooted in the visual traditions of Dutch art. We are therefore delighted and honoured to be able to add his work to the Rijksmuseum collection.

Erwin Olaf’s decision to transfer his core collection to the Rijksmuseum is motivated by his long relationship with the museum and the inspiration he draws from its collection, particularly the Old Masters.

Erwin Olaf: On a group trip to the Rijksmuseum during one of my final years of primary school, I was captivated by the museum and its collection. At the time, I was particularly transfixed by Rembrandt’s youthful self-portrait; later, there were many more.

“His work is deeply rooted in the visual traditions of Dutch art. We are therefore delighted and honoured to be able to add his work to the Rijksmuseum collection.”
Taco Dibbits, Director of the Rijksmuseum

Erwin Olaf (1959), Squares Cum, 1985. Purchased with the support of the BankGiro Loterij, 2018

Erwin Olaf and his work
The work of Erwin Olaf (b. 1959) has been exhibited around the world on many occasions, and he has received numerous highly prestigious commissions. Most recently, he took portraits for the Dutch Royal family and designed the new coin for King Willem Alexander. Olaf’s photographs form an essential part of Dutch cultural heritage. They are also internationally renowned, appearing in the standard works on the photography of the late-20th and early 21st centuries. Having started his career as a photojournalist documenting the gay scene, he increasingly sought and defined his own themes, directing his subjects often in series of works in both black-and-white (Squares, Chessmen and Blacks) and colour (Mind of their Own, Rain, Hope, Grief, Dusk, Dawn, Berlin, and Shanghai). In recent years, Olaf has increasingly developed his themes through the form of monumental tableaux, for which he adopts the role of director as well as photographer. Nowadays, stillness, contemplation and dreamlike mystery occupy the foreground. Olaf is a master of his craft, a virtuoso in the fine and subtle arts of photography and drama. He is also a true 'picture maker' with a close affinity to both Robert Mapplethorpe and Old Masters such as Rembrandt, and in that sense his work emphatically bridges the gap between contemporary and historical picture makers.

The Erwin Olaf collection at the Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum houses the national photo collection and already contained work by Erwin Olaf. The core collection includes early and recent work; self-portraits and portraits of figures such as Johan Cruijff; works from the series Chessmen, Mind of their Own, Paradise Grief, Hope, Dawn, Dusk and Berlin; portraits of Queen Maxima and other members of the Dutch royal family; and a selection of commissioned work for Dutch National Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater, Bottega Veneta, Vogue, The New York Times and Diesel.

Erwin Olaf (1959), Grief Caroline, 2007. Transfer of Erwin Olaf’s core collection, 2018

Exhibition in 2019
Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and Fotomuseum Den Haag will organise a double exhibition from February 16 to May 12 in 2019. In the summer of 2019 the Rijksmuseum will present a selection of iconic works by Olaf for which he drew inspiration from paintings by artists such as Rembrandt, Vermeer and Breitner. The exhibition will show how Olaf’s work manifests an unbroken line from early Dutch painting to the present day.

Erwin Olaf schenkt Rijks bijna 500 werken

De Amsterdamse fotograaf Erwin Olaf © ANP
Fotograaf Erwin Olaf heeft zijn kerncollectie overgedragen aan het Rijksmuseum. Het overgrote deel is een schenking, daarnaast zijn voor 200.000 euro 60 foto's en 3 video's aangekocht.

Fotograaf-filmmaker Erwin Olaf - in 1959 geboren in Hilversum als Erwin Olaf Springveld - heeft vele tentoonstellingen in binnen- en buitenland gehad.

Hij begon zijn carrière als chroniqueur van de homoscene; in 1988 ontving hij een Europese prijs voor zijn gedurfde, provocerende foto's van als schaakstuk uitgedoste naakte mannen, dikke vrouwen en dwergen - werk dat hem zijn leven lang is blijven achtervolgen.

Hollandse Meesters
Sindsdien zijn Olafs foto's verstilder, contemplatiever en minder exorbitant. In 2011 werd hij onderscheiden met de Johannes Vermeer Prijs, in 2013 ontwierp hij de Nederlandse euromunt met de beeltenis van koning Willem-Alexander, recent maakte hij portretten van het Nederlands koningshuis.

Richard van de Crommert
Wat een gave foto van de koninklijke familie, gemaakt door Erwin Olaf

Berlin Portrait, 2012. Overdracht kerncollectie Erwin Olaf, 2018 © Erwin Olaf

"Erwin Olaf is een van de belangrijkste fotografen uit het laatste kwart van de 20ste eeuw. Zijn werk is sterk geworteld in de visuele traditie van Nederlandse kunst en geschiedenis en daarom is het fantastisch dat we zijn werk mogen toevoegen aan de collectie van het Rijksmuseum," aldus directeur Taco Dibbits.

In juli 2019, de maand dat hij 60 jaar wordt, opent in de Philipsvleugel van het Rijksmuseum een tentoonstelling waarin een link wordt gelegd tussen Olafs werk en de Hollandse Meesters.

Die Hollandse Meesters zijn voor Olaf een belangrijke reden om zijn kerncollectie - een keuze uit zijn gehele carrière: bijna 500 afdrukken, portfolio's, video's, magazines, boeken en posters - onder te brengen in het Rijks.

"Tijdens een schoolreisje ben ik gegrepen door het museum en de collectie. Ik was toen vooral gefascineerd door het jeugdige zelfportret van Rembrandt, later zijn daar vele werken bijgekomen."

In februari 2019 krijgt Olaf een dubbeltentoonstelling in het Haags Gemeentemuseum en het Fotomuseum Den Haag. Toch grijpt Den Haag naast de gewilde collectie; hetzelfde geldt voor het Stedelijk Museum.

"Ik had graag een keer in het Stedelijk geëxposeerd en ik vind het onbegrijpelijk dat ik de afgelopen veertig jaar nooit door hen ben uitgenodigd," zegt Olaf in de Volkskrant. Schenken was dus geen optie. "Aan een instituut dat mij nooit heeft gevolgd, waarmee ik geen band heb opgebouwd?"

Chessmen XXIV, 1988. Overdracht kerncollectie Erwin Olaf, 2018 © Erwin Olaf

HRH Princess Maxima, 2011. Aankoop met steun van de BankGiro Loterij, 2018 © Erwin Olaf