Essay by Alasdair Foster. Photographs by Erwin Olaf.
New York. Aperture. 2008. First edition; second printing. Blue woven cloth hardback, with image pasted to front board, title in gilt. 112 pages. DVD of 'Erwin Olaf Selected Films' inserted at rear. 65 four-colour images. 340 x 260mm (13½ x 10¼"). 1.4kg. 9781597110617. English. Fine.
'Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf's highly stylized mode of image-making offers a blend of mid-century modern and noir aesthetics, seen through a contemporary, fashion-inflected lens. In this enticing volume...Olaf seduces the viewer via a mannered, restrained palette replete with faded avocado greens, golden-hued oranges, and subtle lilacs.
Each richly colored and sleekly composed image offers a sly reinterpretation of Norman Rockwell-like iconography and characters, manifesting a nostalgia that both burlesques and wryly celebrates America of the 1950s and '60s. As a whole, the material investigates what critic Jonathan Turner defines as "Olaf's recent fascination with the visual representation of such emotions as loss, loneliness, and quiet despair.... [He] plays games with the idea of cold reality versus cruel artifice, capturing that precise moment when innocence, hope, and joy are lost."' (from the publisher's description).