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In Memoriam : Erwin Olaf (1959-2023)


Today’s edition is dedicated to Erwin Olaf. The Dutch photographer passed away this past Wednesday at the age of 64. Through the years, we published numerous times his work, you will find today a selection of the features from our archives.

His studio carried a statement saying that Olaf recently underwent a lung transplant.

“The recovery seemed to be going very well. He suddenly became unwell on Wednesday morning and CPR was to no avail. We’re going to miss him terribly.”

According to a 2019 New York Times profile, Olaf had been diagnosed with emphysema in 1996 and had been told not to expect to live past 60. He ended up doing so—and expressed optimism at the time that he might even live to be 70.


Galerie Ron Mandos in Amsterdam sent out the following text :

This past Wednesday, Erwin Olaf passes away.

We are deeply saddened by the loss of the talented and revered Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf.

A cultural icon, LGBTQI+ advocate, and visionary artist, his work touched hearts and minds worldwide. Erwin Olaf was a source of inspiration for his unparalleled artistic skill, for his magnetism, and for his sensibility.

His work, spanning four decades, graced galleries and museums worldwide, including our very own. Erwin was not just an esteemed collaborator but also a dear friend to our gallery. His impressive, emotional images challenged perceptions and inspired countless visitors and artists over the years.

“The loss of Erwin Olaf is deeply personal to me. Over the years, our bond grew not just through art but in the many candid moments we shared. Erwin’s smile was genuine and contagious, and his charisma touched all those around him. I remember how his presence always made occasions brighter. It was always a pleasure to be in his company as his wit and laughter complemented his wisdom and inspiration.

Erwin was a visionary — not only a true artist, but a brave advocate as well. His devotion to the LGBTQI+ community showcased a courage that went beyond photography, demonstrating his commitment to equality, change, and respect.” – Ron Mandos

Our team has had the privilege of working closely with Erwin Olaf for many years. As we mourn his passing, we also celebrate his enduring legacy that will certainly continue to inspire future generations.

The entire team at Galerie Ron Mandos deeply mourns this loss; our condolences go out to his family, friends, and all who were touched by him and his work. The art world has lost a visionary, but Erwin Olaf’s brilliance will never fade.

Ron Mandos
Team Galerie Ron Mandos

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