Photographer Erwin Olaf donates collection to the Rijksmuseum

Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf has donated his core collection to the Amsterdam-based Rijksmuseum. The collection of work includes pieces that span Olaf’s entire career.

Erwin Olaf and Taco Dibbits - Photo: Olivier Middendorp, Rijksmuseum

With the donation, the museum has received about 500 works consisting of prints, portfolios, videos, magazines, books and posters. In addition to the donated works, the Rijksmuseum acquired 60 photographs and three videos by Olaf, with the support of the BankGiro Loterij.

Olaf cited his long standing relationship with the Rijksmuseum as well as the inspiration he draws from its collection, particularly the Old Masters, as his motivation to donate his work.

The photographer said in a press release: “On a school 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 [works].”

Taco Dibbits, director of the Rijksmuseum, said: “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 honored to be able to add his work to the Rijksmuseum collection.”

The Rijksmuseum houses the Netherlands’ national photo collection, which already contains work by Olaf. The core collection includes early and recent work; self-portraits and portraits of figures such as Johan Cruijff; portraits of Queen Maxima and other members of the Dutch royal family; and a selection of commissioned work for Dutch National Ballet, Bottega Veneta, Vogue, The New York Times and Diesel.

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