Olaf Nicolai (1962, Halle/Saale) studied German Literature and Philology in Leipzig (Germany), Vienna (Austria) and Budapest (Hungary). In 1992, he completed his PhD on 'The Vienna Group' ('Die Wiener Gruppe'). In addition, he completed his diploma at Fachschule für Angewandte Kunst in Schneeberg (Germany). His works and projects have been shown in numerous international solo shows, such as Taxispalais Innsbruck, Austria (2017), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Netherlands (2016), German Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale, Italy (2015), Musée du Louvre, France (2013), museum angewandte kunst, Frankfurt/ M., Germany (2013), Kunsthalle Münster, Germany (2012), Pinakothek der Moderne München, Germany (2011), Kestnergesellschaft Hannover, Germany (2010), Kunstmuseum Thurgau, Switzerland (2009), Leonhardi Museum Dresden, Germany (2007), Kunstraum Dornbirn, Austria (2006), Kunstmuseum Thun, Switzerland (2004), Casino Luxembourg (2003), migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Zürich, Switzerland (2001), Watari-Um Museum Tokyo, Japan (1998).
In 2015, Olaf Nicolai participated at the 56th Venice Biennale, exhibiting his seven month long performative installation Giro at the German Pavillon.
His works have been awarded with awards such as the 'Kunstpreis der Stadt Wolfsburg', Germany (2002) or with grants by Villa Aurora/ Los Angeles (2008), the IASPIS (Stockholm, 2000), at PS1 (New York, 1998) or at Villa Massimo, Rome (1997/98). In 2014, his memorial draft for persecutees by the Nazi-military has been realised at Ballhausplatz in Vienna (Austria), as well as his permanent artistic interior design for the new buildings of the 'Meisterhäuser Gropius and Moholy-Nagy' at Bauhaus Dessau (Germany). In 2017, he has been awarded with the 'Karl-Sczuka-Preis für Radiokunst' for his DOCUMENTA 14 contribution, In the woods there is a bird.... In 2018, he was awarded the Wilhelm-Loth-Preis of the city of Darmstadt, Germany.
Olaf Nicolai currently lives and works in Berlin.