Olaf Nicolai is a German conceptual artist who grew up in East Germany. He has established himself as one of country’s leading contemporary artists.
Nicolai’s work stands in the tradition of conceptual art that examines the relationship between idea and image or object. Using various media, Nicolai recurrently questions our habitual ways of seeing things. He transfers theories from the natural sciences and humanities into the realms of the aesthetic and artistic.
His solo exhibitions and projects include: documenta 14 Athens (2017), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (2016), 56th Biennale Arte di Venezia, German Pavilion (2015), Musée du Louvre (2013), Pinakothek der Moderne (2011), and Royal Academy of Arts (2008). His work has been awarded with the Karl-Sczuka-Preis (2017) and the art award of the city of Wolfsburg (2002), as well as the Scholarships of Villa Aurora in Los Angeles (2008), PS1 (New York, 1998), and Villa Massimo Rome (1997/98). In 2015, Nicolai worked with photographer Heidi Specker on a joint publication documenting his mural "Le pigment de la lumière", a piece that is inspired by the light studies of Bauhaus professor László Moholy-Nagy.
He lives and works in Berlin.