Olaf Martens
  • Introducción

  • CV

  • Exposiciones

  • Publicaciones

  • Enlaces



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.


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.
Olaf Martens
1963Born in Halle/(Saale), Germany
1980-1982Apprenticeship as a draftsman
1985-1990Studied Photography at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig, Germany
1990-1992Postgraduate studies at the HGB
1990Co-founded the punctum photo agency in Leipzig
1990Began freelance career for magazines in fashion, beauty, society, and current affairs
1991Master Class student, HdK Leipzig, Germany
Since 1999Conducting fashion and PR shoots for international brands
Lives and works in Leipzig

Solo Exposiciones (Selección)

2011Work / Shop / Works – EFTI gallery Madrid , Photo Espana, Madrid, Spain
2010Reale Kunstwelten, Photoplatz, Berlin, Germany
Olaf Martens, Photographie, Gallery Brucie Collections, Kiev, Ukraine
2009Blockschokolade – Bilder aus der DDR 1979 – 1989, Galerie f 5,6, Munich, Germany
Stück(e)werke - Galerie Photan – Leipzig, Germany
2008Bruchstücke – 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
2007Der schöne Mensch, Neue Sächsische Galerie, Chemnitz, Germany
Heimat & Tapeten, Gallery Cokkie Snoei, Rotterdam and Kunstforum Halle, Germany
2006Peripherie & Havarie, Galerie f 5,6 Munich, Germany
2005Masken & Fassaden, FFI - Fotoforum International, Frankfurt, Germany
Olaf Martens, Kunstlocatie Würth, Den Bosch, Nederlands
2004Masken & 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
2001davor + dahinter, IP-Germany, Cologne, Germany
Modefotographie – QuasiModa, Ephraimpalais, Berlin, Germany
2000Der schräge Blick, International Photo Biennial, Goethe-Institut, Rotterdam, Germany
Olaf Martens - Gallery Ackermann, Bergisch-Gladbach, Germany
1999Der schräge Blick, Goethe-Institut, Lyon, France
1998Lust & Spiele, Arthouse, Dresden, Germany
Der schräge Blick, Barlach-Halle K, Hamburg, Germany
Olaf Martens – Fotografie, 2nd International Photo Biennial, Moscow, Russia
1997Gallery Löffler, Stuttgart, Germany
1996Frostiges Feuer - Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn, Germany
1993Gallery Eye-Gen-Art, Cologne, Germany
1992Gallery Specks Hof, Leipzig, Germany
Gallery Fiedler, Leipzig, Germany
Goethe-Institute, Rotterdam, Germany
1991Gallery Alter Markt, Halle, Germany
Gallery Bildende Kunst, Berlin, Germany
1990Gallery Augenblick, Leipzig, Germany
1983Fotoclub ROH, Liberec

Exposiciones colectivas (Selección)

2011Leipzig Photography since 1839, Museum of Fine Art, Leipzig, Germany
20093rd International F–Stop Festival, Leipzig, Germany
2008Dark Side, Museum of Photography, Winterthur, Germany
2007Review – 4 Jahre Gallery f 5,6, Munich, Germany
The Heartbeat of Fashion, House of Photography/Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany
2006Rendez-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
2005Die Ästhetik der Lüste IV, Kamera- und Fotomuseum Leipzig, Germany
Best of Aplanat, Aplanat Galerie für Fotografie. Hamburg, Germany
2004Cokkie’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
2003Phantom 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
2000Mode – 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
1999Verlängerte Frohe Zukunft, Landeskunstausstellung Sachsen Anhalt, Halle/S., Germany
Positionen der Farbfotografie, Galerie Alte Schule, Berlin, Germany
1998Signaturen des Sichtbaren, Galerie am Fischmarkt, Erfurt, Germany
1997Der fixierte Blick – Deutschland und das Rheinland im Focus der Fotografie, Germany Landesmuseum, Bonn und Erholungshaus der Bayer AG, Leverkusen, Germany
1996Die andere Seite der Schönheit - Sammlung Michael Horbach, Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn, Germany
Epilog – Industrie und Landschaft, Otmar Alt-Stiftung, Hamm, Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn, Germany
1995Bildermode – 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
1994Die Bildagentur Punctum, Stadtgeschichtliches Museum, Leipzig, Germany
Exhibition of the students oft he master class, Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst, Leipzig, Germany
1992Gallery Sandmann & Haak Hannover, Germany
International Art Fair Art, Frankfurt, Germany
1988150 Jahre Fotografie, Ephraimpalais, Berlin

Libros / catálogos (Selección)

Fotografie – Arbeiten von Absolventen und Studenten 1980-93, 100 Jahre Fotographie an der Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst, Ausst.Kat.Leipzig 1993
Das Bildforum – 2. Internationale Fototage in Herten 1993, Ausst.-Kat. Herten 1993
Erotica – Erotik & Kunst, Ausst.-Kat. Museum für angewandet Kunst im Ferberschen Haus, Gera 1994
Panther Generations – Kodak, Ausst.-Kat. photokina 1994, Köln 1994
Panther Generations – Developing Process – Kodak, Ausst.-Kat. photokina, Köln 1995
Die andere Seite der Schönheit. Fotografien aus der Sammlung Horbach, Ausst.-Kat. Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn 1996
Bildermode - Modebilder - Deutsche Modephotographien von 1945-1995, Ausst.-Kat. Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen 1995
Sehtest – Material zur Geschichte einer Galerie, Ausst.-Kat. Kunstförderverein Treptow e. V. 1995
EPILOG. Industrie und Landschaft im Fokus zeitgenössischer Kunst, Ausst.-Kat. Otmar- Alt- Stiftung, Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn 1996
Olaf Martens – Fotografien [Olaf Martens – Photographs], Texte von F. C. Gundlach, Klaus Honnef und Wolfgang G. Schröter, Kilchberg/Zürich 1994
Olaf Martens - Frostiges Feuer - Neue Fotografien [Frosty Fire – Olaf Martens], Text von Klaus Honnef, Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn 1996
Signaturen des Sichtbaren - Ein Jahrhundert der Fotografie in Deutschland, Text von Klaus Honnef und K.U.Schierz, Galerie am Fischmarkt, Erfurt 1998
Olaf Martens, Peter Lang. Lust und Spiele, Kunsthaus Dresden, Städtische Galerie für Gegenwartskunst, Dresden 1998
Bilder, die noch fehlten, Text von Klaus Honnef, Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Das Museum vom Menschen, Dresden 2000
Positionen zur Farbfotografie. Das Menschenbild, Kunst- Medienzentrum Adlershof, Berlin 1999
Masken & Fassaden. St. Petersburger Perspektiven. Olaf Martens Fotografie 1996-2003 [Masks & Façades. Perspectives on St Petersburg. Olaf Martens Photographs 1996–2003], Stuttgart 2003
Von Körpern und anderen Dingen - Deutsche Fotografie im 20. Jahrhundert, Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin; Moscow House of Photography, Moskau; Museum Bochum 2003
Träume Welten Hintergründe - Olaf Martens 1984 – 2004, Grassi Museum, Leipzig 2004
Körper, Gesicht & Seele, Ausst.-Kat. Leopold Museum, Wien 2005
The New Erotic Photography, Dian Hanson/Eric Kroll (Hg.), Köln 2007
20 anos – EFTI Escuela Fotografia Centro de Imagen, Katalog Madrid 2008
Dark Side I , Urs Stahel (Hg.), Fotomuseum Winterthur, Aust.Kat. Steidl, Göttingen 2008
Professionisti All`Opera - Unilever Foodsolutions, Katalog Unilever, Milano 2009
1989 – 365 Art Days in China and Germany, Huang Rui/Berenice Angremy, Thinking Hands, Katalog, Beijing 2009

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