Edward Steichen (1879-1973) – The Artist’s Viewby Erwin Olaf and Hans Op de Beeck, guest curators
This spring, Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf and Belgian visual artist Hans Op de Beeck bring their unique perspective to bear on the MNHA’s extensive collection of Steichen prints. Staged as part of their joint exhibition Inspired by Steichen, on show until 11 June, the two artists present a curated selection of 20 photographs in the museum’s Edward Steichen cabinet, offering a new way into this fascinating collection of historical prints. The collection consists of 178 photos gifted to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg by Steichen himself and a number of Steichen prints from the City of Luxembourg. Together, they illustrate the universal importance of the work of the Luxembourg-born photographer.
The year 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of photographer Edward Steichen’s death. Born in Luxembourg, he emigrated to the United States at a young age and became one of the great innovators in the relatively young medium of photography. The lasting significance and inspirational effect of Steichen’s oeuvre is still palpable in our time. A case in point is the work of Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf (*1959) and Belgian artist Hans Op de Beeck (*1969), which is currently on display in the exhibition Inspired by Steichen in the Wiltheim Room. Both artists kindly agreed to guest curate The Artist’s View in the Steichen Cabinet, showing their highly personal selection of 20 photographs by Edward Steichen from the museum’s collection.
Their perception of the picturesque qualities of Steichen’s photography, the beauty of black, white and grey tones, the many faces of humankind, the relationship of humans to their natural environment and the worlds between reality and fantasy pass by our eyes as we walk through the cabinet. The Artist’s View encourages us to think about our humble, fleeting place in a patient world, offering moments of peace, beauty and reflection. With many thanks to Erwin Olaf, Hans Op de Beeck and of course Steichen, whose memory they honour in this exhibition, we wish you an inspiring visual journey.