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IntroductionABOUT THE WORK
Olaf Martens’ photographs appear to come from another time, and yet, they are quite modern. They are authentic and in no way artificial. His depictions of women are far from stereotypical; although they are often naked and always theatrical, they are never objectified. Rather than being smooth, perfect, and one-dimensional, Martens’ models are always the key to his contrast-laden, opulent aesthetic.
Characterized by the era of unrest in the 1990s, Martens’ work continues to offer social criticism today. His unconventional approach to these themes can already be seen in his early works. Humour, imagination, and the courage to stage extreme shoots are what sets his work apart. The pictures seem like candid shots while also having very little in common with reality. The artist leads us to the boundaries between reality and illusion.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in Halle, East Germany in 1963, Olaf Martens first started taking photographs when the Berlin Wall was still standing. This was both a curse and a blessing. Martens describes the upside: “We were simply oblivious to many trends, so we didn’t have to follow them.” This gave him unimaginable freedom in his artistic development. By the time Martens finished his photography studies at the Leipzig Academy of Visual Arts in 1990 and became a freelance photographer, the GDR no longer existed.
Martens’ international career kicked off immediately after his graduation, beginning with the publication of his erotic photographs in Stern magazine in 1990. His work has appeared in countless exhibitions throughout all of Europe. Martens still resides in Leipzig.
Although they are extravagantly staged, Martens’ photographs feel overwhelmingly real. He finds settings that have their own aura, putting the beautiful models in locations of decay and otherness: a discarded submarine, a classical revue theatre, or a palace. All of these locations come with a patina, a layer that makes the past and passage of time visible. Although they are often naked, the models in Martens’ photos are never soulless objects.
As a photojournalist, Robert Lebeck knew how to go through the world observantly so that he would not miss out on any magic moments. The precision in his analog photographs is impressive. Instead of depicting the subjects, Lebeck dove into the situations. In this way, he always discovered a unique angle and composition for his shots.
The women’s beauty is never merely decorative; they present themselves ironically in order to be provocative. Martens takes analog photographs, using digital image editing only for minor corrections, if at all. Martens loves mistakes and coarseness, finding sheer perfection rather boring.
I like things that last. These days, everything is fast-paced, usually with no rhyme nor reason. But solid footholds and roots are important.
1963 Born in Halle/(Saale), Germany 1980-1982 Apprenticeship as a draftsman 1985-1990 Studied Photography at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig, Germany 1990-1992 Postgraduate studies at the HGB 1990 Co-founded the punctum photo agency in Leipzig 1990 Began freelance career for magazines in fashion, beauty, society, and current affairs 1991 Master Class student, HdK Leipzig, Germany Since 1999 Conducting fashion and PR shoots for international brands Lives and works in LeipzigExhibitions
2011 Work / Shop / Works – EFTI gallery Madrid , Photo Espana, Madrid, Spain 2010 Reale Kunstwelten, Photoplatz, Berlin, Germany Olaf Martens, Photographie, Gallery Brucie Collections, Kiev, Ukraine 2009 Blockschokolade – Bilder aus der DDR 1979 – 1989, Galerie f 5,6, Munich, Germany Stück(e)werke - Galerie Photan – Leipzig, Germany 2008 Bruchstücke – Snatches, PlanB Gallery, Vienna, Austria Not Perfect, Gallery Photan, Leipzig, Germany Bruchstücke – Snatches, Visual Gallery, Photokina, Cologne, Germany Fashion ( able), NoNameGallery, Milano, Italy Unihibited, MVartprojects Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland 2007 Der schöne Mensch, Neue Sächsische Galerie, Chemnitz, Germany Heimat & Tapeten, Gallery Cokkie Snoei, Rotterdam and Kunstforum Halle, Germany 2006 Peripherie & Havarie, Galerie f 5,6 Munich, Germany 2005 Masken & Fassaden, FFI - Fotoforum International, Frankfurt, Germany Olaf Martens, Kunstlocatie Würth, Den Bosch, Nederlands 2004 Masken & Fassaden, Gallery f 5,6, Munich, Germany Träume Welten Hintergründe, Olaf Martens Fotografie 1984–2004, Grassi Museum, Leipzig, Germany Olaf Martens, Aplanat Gallery für Fotografie, Hamburg, Germany 2001 davor + dahinter, IP-Germany, Cologne, Germany Modefotographie – QuasiModa, Ephraimpalais, Berlin, Germany 2000 Der schräge Blick, International Photo Biennial, Goethe-Institut, Rotterdam, Germany Olaf Martens - Gallery Ackermann, Bergisch-Gladbach, Germany 1999 Der schräge Blick, Goethe-Institut, Lyon, France 1998 Lust & Spiele, Arthouse, Dresden, Germany Der schräge Blick, Barlach-Halle K, Hamburg, Germany Olaf Martens – Fotografie, 2nd International Photo Biennial, Moscow, Russia 1997 Gallery Löffler, Stuttgart, Germany 1996 Frostiges Feuer - Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn, Germany 1993 Gallery Eye-Gen-Art, Cologne, Germany 1992 Gallery Specks Hof, Leipzig, Germany Gallery Fiedler, Leipzig, Germany Goethe-Institute, Rotterdam, Germany 1991 Gallery Alter Markt, Halle, Germany Gallery Bildende Kunst, Berlin, Germany 1990 Gallery Augenblick, Leipzig, Germany 1983 Fotoclub ROH, Liberec
2011 Leipzig Photography since 1839, Museum of Fine Art, Leipzig, Germany 2009 3rd International F–Stop Festival, Leipzig, Germany 2008 Dark Side, Museum of Photography, Winterthur, Germany 2007 Review – 4 Jahre Gallery f 5,6, Munich, Germany The Heartbeat of Fashion, House of Photography/Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany 2006 Rendez-vous avec une femme, Gallery Bertin - Toublanc / Gallery Adler, Paris, France Körper, Gesicht & Seele. Frauenbilder vom 16. bis ins 21. Jahrhundert, Leopold Museum Vienna, Austria Photo Event 2006, Culture Centre De Warande, Turnhout, Berlgium Winterwonderland, FFI – Fotografie Forum International, Frankfurt, Germany Selektion #1, Arbeiten in Schwarz/Weiß, Gallery f 5,6, Munich, Germany 2005 Die Ästhetik der Lüste IV, Kamera- und Fotomuseum Leipzig, Germany Best of Aplanat, Aplanat Galerie für Fotografie. Hamburg, Germany 2004 Cokkie’s Summer Set Up, Gallery Cokkie Snoei, Rotterdam, Germany Fotografie de moda alemana 1945-1995, Museu Metropolitano de Arte, Suritiba, Brasil Von Körpern und anderen Dingen, Deutsche Fotografie im 20. Jahrhundert DHM, Germany Historical Museum, Berlin, Germany 2003 Phantom der Lust - Gallery and City Museum, Graz, Austria Von Körpern und anderen Dingen. Deutsche Fotografie im 20. Jahrhundert, Gallery oft he capital city, Prague, Moscow and Bochum Streiflichter, Museum für Kunsthandwerk / Grassi Museum, Leipzig, Germany 2000 Mode – Körper – Mode, Museum of Art and Trade, Hamburg, Germany Von Antlitz zu Antlitz, Artothek, Wiesbaden, Germany Bilder, die noch fehlten, Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Dresden, Germany 1999 Verlängerte Frohe Zukunft, Landeskunstausstellung Sachsen Anhalt, Halle/S., Germany Positionen der Farbfotografie, Galerie Alte Schule, Berlin, Germany 1998 Signaturen des Sichtbaren, Galerie am Fischmarkt, Erfurt, Germany 1997 Der fixierte Blick – Deutschland und das Rheinland im Focus der Fotografie, Germany Landesmuseum, Bonn und Erholungshaus der Bayer AG, Leverkusen, Germany 1996 Die andere Seite der Schönheit - Sammlung Michael Horbach, Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn, Germany Epilog – Industrie und Landschaft, Otmar Alt-Stiftung, Hamm, Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn, Germany 1995 Bildermode – Modebilder. Deutsche Modefotografie Bildermode – Modebilder. Deutsche Modefotografie 1945–1995, Museum für angewandte Kunst & Gewerbe, Berlin (Touring Exhibition) Mode und Zeit und Traum, Gallery Talstraße, Halle, Germany 1994 Die Bildagentur Punctum, Stadtgeschichtliches Museum, Leipzig, Germany Exhibition of the students oft he master class, Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst, Leipzig, Germany 1992 Gallery Sandmann & Haak Hannover, Germany International Art Fair Art, Frankfurt, Germany 1988 150 Jahre Fotografie, Ephraimpalais, Berlin