Olaf Holzapfel studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden from 1996 to 2001. From 2001 to 2003 he was a master student with Professor Ralf Kobach. From 2001-2002, he studied at the National Institute of Design (NID) at Singanapali Balaram, Ahmedabad, India, and resided as Artist in Residence at Columbia University New York.
From 2006 to 2008 Holzapfel taught as a visiting professor for painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe and from 2008 to 2010 as Visiting Professor for Sculpture at the HfbK Hamburg. He lives and works in Berlin.
In 2001, Olaf Holzapfel received the Hegenbarth Fellowship. In 2002, he received a scholarship from the Philip Morris Art Fund and the DAAD. In 2014, he was awarded the Gerhard Altenbourg Prize. Olaf Holzapfel is a participant of Documenta 14 in Kassel and Athens.
In his artistic work, Olaf Holzapfel is interested in space and how space is created.
The results of his work are sculptures, which he creates in various media. For his conceptual art, he uses traditional handicraft techniques on an equal footing with digital image processing. Apart from painting, he also works with sculpture, installation, photography, film and digital printing.
Many of his large objects built Holzapfel of hardboard and polyamide threads. It is known he for his half-timbered sculptures made of wood in various sizes, which he sets up like in the wild.  For Olaf Holzapfel's most prominent business groups including the object images of hay or straw. Since 2009, in cooperation with the indigenous tribe of Wichí from South America, he has been producing textile pictures, which are woven from the plant fiber Charger.