Olaf Nicolai

German, b. 1962

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Olaf Nicolai

German, b. 1962

234
Followers
Biography

Considered one of Germany’s leading artists, Olaf Nicolai takes on a range of conceptual themes, from political and cultural critiques to inquiries into human perception. A recurring subject is the aesthetic appropriation of nature by human culture and design, explored through mixed-media sculptures and images, as in his juxtaposition of plant forms with depictions of hand gestures in Italian Renaissance paintings. “Questions of form, moods, attitudes, and style are not just vain play with surfaces,” Nicolai has said. “They are questions of organizational forms of activities.” In his recent work Escalier du Chant (Staircase of Song) (2011), Nicolai took over the sweeping staircase of Munich’s modern art museum, Pinakothek der Moderne, for one Sunday of each month in 2011. Throughout the day, performers would sing the songs of 12 international contemporary composers—which addressed political issues that took place throughout that year—creating a new aesthetic context for the year’s political events.

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Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
Blue chip status
Blue chip representation
Represented by internationally reputable galleries.
Group
Group show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 2 more
Institution
Collected by a major institution
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Artforum, and 1 more
Fair
Included in a major biennial
Venice Biennale National Pavilion, and 5 more
Biography

Considered one of Germany’s leading artists, Olaf Nicolai takes on a range of conceptual themes, from political and cultural critiques to inquiries into human perception. A recurring subject is the aesthetic appropriation of nature by human culture and design, explored through mixed-media sculptures and images, as in his juxtaposition of plant forms with depictions of hand gestures in Italian Renaissance paintings. “Questions of form, moods, attitudes, and style are not just vain play with surfaces,” Nicolai has said. “They are questions of organizational forms of activities.” In his recent work Escalier du Chant (Staircase of Song) (2011), Nicolai took over the sweeping staircase of Munich’s modern art museum, Pinakothek der Moderne, for one Sunday of each month in 2011. Throughout the day, performers would sing the songs of 12 international contemporary composers—which addressed political issues that took place throughout that year—creating a new aesthetic context for the year’s political events.

Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
Blue chip status
Blue chip representation
Represented by internationally reputable galleries.
Group
Group show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 2 more
Institution
Collected by a major institution
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Artforum, and 1 more
Fair
Included in a major biennial
Venice Biennale National Pavilion, and 5 more
Shows Featuring Olaf Nicolai
Articles Featuring Olaf Nicolai
Okwui Enwezor’s Venice Biennale Is an Unpleasant Experience—And That’s a Good Thing
May 7th, 2015
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