Good Grief

Jun 01, 2007

By Dan Rubinstein

"Most photography is cold," says artist Erwin Olaf, "unlike film, where you can make people laugh or cry just by projecting light through celluloid." Provoking and conveying emotion is central to "Grief," a series of photographs by Olaf, recently shown at New York's Hasted Hunt Gallery. Various models, set in the early '60s with authentic upper-class decor and dress, are caught in mysterious moments of intense personal suffering.  Why this particular decade? "I'm fascinated by US history," says the Dutch artist. "The '60s were a transitional period into the modern world.  It was the beginning of global fashion, women's lib and enormous wealth." The decision to have his subjects appear wealthy was also intentional. "I remember the worldwide sadness that occurred after JFK's assassination, even in the Netherlands," he says, referencing the Camelot-era of glamour and privacy.  "Back then, you didn't flaunt your anguish, like people do today," he explains.  "It was chic to keep grief inside."