The Dutch artist Erwin Olaf is a master of the staged photograph. Often collaborating with set decorators, makeup artists, and costume designers, he creates scenes that exist somewhere between fact and fiction. He’ll shoot a woman with a phony smile—her dress too green, her eyes too bright, her position too poised. “I want the viewer to come up with their own story and create his or her fantasy,” Olaf once explained. The stylized photographs often hint at complex narratives regarding gender, sexuality, and the dark side of studio photography. This is Olaf’s first large retrospective in Germany, and works spanning 40 years of his career are on view. —E.C.
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