Olafur Eliasson, still from the movie The Future of Art.
Olafur Eliasson (born 1967) is a Danish-Icelandic artist known for sculptures and large-scale installation art employing elemental materials such as light, water, and air temperature to enhance the viewer’s experience. In 1995 he established Studio Olafur Eliasson in Berlin, a laboratory for spatial research. Eliasson represented Denmark at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003 and later that year installed The Weather Project in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern, London.
Eliasson has engaged in a number of projects in public space, including the intervention Green river, carried out in various cities between 1998 and 2001; the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2007, London, a temporary pavilion designed with the Norwegian architect Kjetil Thorsen; and The New York City Waterfalls, commissioned by Public Art Fund in 2008.
Olafur Eliasson, born in Copenhagen in 1967 to Icelandic parents, studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts between 1989 and 1995.
In 2004, Eliasson told Berlin magazine 032c that his father was also an artist; in the same interview he also said that at one time he considered his "break-dancing" during the mid-1980s to be his first artworks. In 1990, when he was awarded a travel budget by the Royal Danish Academy of Arts, Eliasson went to New York where he started working as a studio assistant. He received his degree from the academy in 1995, after having moved in 1993 to Cologne for a year, and then to Berlin, where he has since maintained a studio. First located in a warehouse right next door to the Hamburger Bahnhof, the studio moved to a former brewery in Prenzlauer Berg in 2008.
In 1996, Eliasson started working with Einar Thorsteinn, an architect and geometry expert 25 years his senior as well as a former friend of Buckminster Fuller's. The first piece they created called 8900054, was a stainless-steel dome 30 feet (9.1 m) wide and 7 feet (2.1 m) high, designed to be seen as if it were growing from the ground. Though the effect is an illusion, the mind has a hard time believing that the structure is not part of a much grander one developing from deep below the surface. Thorsteinn's knowledge of geometry and space has been integrated into Eliasson's artistic production, often seen in his geometric lamp works as well as his pavilions, tunnels and camera obscura projects. For many projects, the artist works collaboratively with specialists in various fields, among them the architects Thorsteinn and Sebastian Behmann (both of whom have been frequent collaborators), author Svend Åge Madsen (The Blind Pavilion), landscape architect Gunther Vogt (The Mediated Motion), architecture theorist Cedric Price (Chaque matin je me sens différent, chaque soir je me sens le même), and architect Kjetil Thorsen (Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, 2007). Today, Studio Olafur Eliasson is a laboratory for spatial research that employs a team of c. 30 architects, engineers, craftsmen, and assistants who work together to conceptualize, test, engineer, and construct installations, sculptures, large-scale projects, and commissions.
As professor at Universität der Künste Berlin, Olafur Eliasson founded the Institute for Spatial Experiments (Institut für Raumexperimente, IfREX), which opened within his studio building in April 2009.
Works and Projects 
Ventilator pieces 
Early works by Eliasson consist of oscillating electric fans hanging from the ceiling. Ventilator (1997) swings back and forth and around, rotating on its axis. Quadrible light ventilator mobile (2002–2007) is a rotating electrically powered mobile comprising a searchlight and four fans blowing air around the exhibition room and scanning it with the light cone.
The weather project 
Eliasson used humidifiers to create a fine mist in the air via a mixture of sugar and water, as well as a semi-circular disc made up of hundreds of monochromatic lamps which radiated yellow light. The ceiling of the hall was covered with a huge mirror, in which visitors could see themselves as tiny black shadows against a mass of orange light. Many visitors responded to this exhibition by lying on their backs and waving their hands and legs. Open for six months, the work reportedly attracted two million visitors, many of whom were repeat visitors.
Light installations 
Eliasson has been developing various experiments with atmospheric density in exhibition spaces. In Room For One Colour (1998), a corridor lit by yellow monofrequency tubes, the participants find themselves in a room filled with light that affects the perception of all other colours. Another installation, 360 degrees Room For All Colours (2002), is a round light-sculpture where participants lose their sense of space and perspective, and experience being subsumed by an intense light. Eliasson's later installation Din blinde passager (Your blind passenger) (2010), commissioned by the Arken Museum of Modern Art, is a 90-metre-long tunnel. Entering the tunnel, the visitor is surrounded by dense fog. With visibility at just 1.5 metres, museumgoers have to use senses other than sight to orient themselves in relation to their surroundings. For Feelings are facts, the first time Eliasson has worked with Chinese architect Yansong Ma as well as his first exhibition in China, Eliasson introduces condensed banks of artificially produced fog into the gallery of Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing. Hundreds of fluorescent lights are installed in the ceiling as a grid of red, green, and blue zones.
Your black horizon 
This project, a light installation commissioned for the Venice Biennale by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary in collaboration with British architect David Adjaye, was shown from 1 August to 31 October 2005 on the island of San Lazzaro in the lagoon near Venice, Italy. A temporary pavilion was constructed on the grounds of the monastery to house the exhibit, consisting of a square room painted black with one source of illumination – a thin, continuous line of light set into all four walls of the room at the viewers eye-level, serving as a horizontal division between above and below. From June 2007 through October 2008, the pavilion was reopened on the island of Lopud, Croatia near the city of Dubrovnik.
Your mobile expectations: BMW H2R project 
Eliasson was commissioned by BMW in 2007 to create the sixteenth art car for the BMW Art Car Project. Based on the BMW H2R concept vehicle, Eliasson and his team removed the automobile's alloy body and instead replaced it with a new interlocking framework of reflective steel bars and mesh. Layers of ice were created by spraying approximately 530 gallons of water during a period of several days upon the structure. On display, the frozen sculpture is glowing from within. Your mobile expectations: BMW H2R project was on special display in a temperature controlled room at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from 2007–08 and at the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, in 2008.
The New York City Waterfalls 
Eliasson was commissioned by The Public Art Fund to create four man-made waterfalls, called the New York City Waterfalls, ranging in a height from 90–120 ft., in New York Harbor. The installation ran from June 26 through October 13, 2008. At $15.5 million, it was the most expensive public arts project since Christo and Jeanne-Claude's installation of The Gates in Central Park.
The Parliament of Reality 
Dedicated on May 15, 2009, this permanent sculpture stands at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. The installation is based on the original Icelandic parliament, Althingi , one of the world's earliest democratic forums. The artist envisions the project as a place where students and visitors can gather to relax, discuss ideas, or have an argument. The parliament of reality emphasizes that negotiation should be the core of any educational scheme. The man-made island is surrounded by a 30-foot circular lake, 24 trees, and wild grasses. The 100-foot-diameter (30 m) island is composed of a cut-bluestone, compass-like floor pattern (based upon meridian lines and navigational charts), on top of which 30 river-washed boulders create an outdoor seating area for students and the public to gather. The island is reached by a 20-foot-long stainless steel lattice-canopied bridge, creating the effect that visitors are entering a stage or outdoor forum. Frogs gather in this wiry mesh at night, creating an enjoyable symphony.
Eliasson designed the facade of Harpa, Reykjavík's new concert hall and conference centre which was completed in 2011. In close collaboration with his studio team and Henning Larsen Architects, the designers of the building, Eliasson has designed a unique facade consisting of large quasi bricks, a stackable twelve sided module in steel and glass. The facade will reflect the city life and the different light composed by the movements of the sun and varying weather. During the night the glass bricks are lit up by different colored LED lights. The building was opened on 13 May 2011.
Your rainbow panorama 
In 2007, Eliasson's idea to an art work which could complete ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum in Aarhus got chosen among five other proposals in a bidding process by a panel of judges. Eliasson's artwork called “Your rainbow panorama” consists of circular, 150 feet long and three feet wide circular corridor made of glass in every color of the rainbow. The work has a diameter of 52 meters and is mounted on slender pillars 3.5 meters above the museum's roof. The artwork is at night lit up from the inside by spotlights in the floor. The project cost 60 million Danish kroner; construction began in May 2009 and was completed in May 2011.
Other projects 
Commissioned by Louis Vuitton in 2006, lamps titled Eye See You were installed in the Christmas windows of Louis Vuitton stores; a lamp titled 'You See Me' went on permanent display at Louis Vuitton Fifth Avenue, New York. All fees from the project were donated to 121Ethiopia.org, a charitable foundation established by Eliasson and his wife.
Along with James Corner's landscape architecture firm Field Operations and architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Eliasson was part of the design team for New York's High Line park. Eliasson was originally supposed to create an outdoor-based artwork for the 2012 Summer Olympics; however, his proposed £1m project Take A Deep Breath was rejected due to funding problems.
Eliasson had his first solo show with Nicolaus Schafhausen in Cologne in 1993, before moving to Berlin in 1994. In 1996, Eliasson had his first show in the United States at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) organized Eliasson's first major survey in the United States Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson, on view from September 8, 2007 to February 24, 2008. Curated by the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Madeleine Grynsztejn (then Elise S. Haas Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture at SFMOMA), in close collaboration with the artist, the major survey spanned the artist's career from 1993 and 2007. The exhibit included site-specific installations, large-scale immersive environments, freestanding sculpture, photography, and special commissions seen through a succession of interconnected rooms and corridors. The museum's skylight bridge was turned into an installation titled One-way colour tunnel. Following its San Francisco debut, the exhibit embarked on an international tour to the Museum of Modern Art, and P.S.1. Contemporary Art Center, New York, 2008; the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas, 2008–09; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 2009; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney 2009–2010. He has also had major solo exhibitions at, among others, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris, and ZKM (Center for Art and Media), Karlsruhe (2001); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2004); Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2006); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Ishikawa (2009); and Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2010). Eliasson has also appeared in numerous group exhibitions, including the São Paulo Biennial and the Istanbul Biennial (1997), Venice Biennale (1999, 2001 and 2005), and the Carnegie International (1999).
The artist is represented by Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in New York, Gallery Koyanagi in Tokyo, PKM Gallery in Seoul/Beijing, and Neugerriemschneider in Berlin.
The Spiral Pavilion, conceived in 1999 for the Venice Biennial and today on display at Kunsthalle Bielefeld, brought Olafur Eliasson the Benesse Prize by the Benesse Corporation. In 2007, Eliasson won the first Joan Miró Prize by the Joan Miró Foundation. In October 2013 Eliasson will be awarded the Goslarer Kaiserring.
See also 
- Joachim Bessing, "Experiencing Space," 032c issue 8 (Winter 2004/05).
- Peter Schjeldahl (April 28, 2008), Uncluttered. An Olafur Eliasson retrospective. The New Yorker.
- Michael Kimmelmann (March 21, 2004), The Sun Sets at the Tate Modern New York Times.
- Marc Spiegler (September 12, 2007), Let There Be Light, ARTINFO, retrieved 2008-04-23
- Olafur Eliasson: The New York City Waterfalls, Public Art Fund, New York.
- Lauren Weinberg (May 11, 2009), Olafur Eliasson Time Out Chicago.
- Olafur Eliasson: Quadrible light ventilator mobile (2002–07) Arken Museum of Modern Art.
- Cynthia Zarin (November 13, 2006), Seeing Things. The art of Olafur Eliasson New Yorker.
- Ólafur Eliasson: Colour memory and other informal shadows, January 24 – May 2, 2004 Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art.
- Olafur Eliasson – Din blinde passager at ARKEN Arken Museum of Modern Art.
- Olafur Eliasson: Your Tempo, September 08, 2007 – January 13, 2008 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
- Dobnik, Verena (2008-06-22). "NYC getting 'Waterfalls' off shore of Manhattan". Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
- Jacquelyn Lewis (December 8, 2006), Eliasson's "Eyes" Draw Stares on NY's Fifth Avenue, ARTINFO, retrieved 2008-04-23
- Design Team High Line.
- Olafur Eliasson art project rejected by Olympics bosses BBC, 11 April 2012.
- Glen Helfand (September 7, 2007), Olafur Eliasson, ARTINFO, retrieved 2008-04-23
- Olafur Eliasson: Spiral Pavilion Kunsthalle Bielefeld.
- Olafur Eliasson: The nature of things, June 20 – September 28, 2008 Joan Miró Foundation, Barcelona, and Centre Cultural Caixa Girona-Fontana d'Or, Girona.
- Olafur Eliasson - Kaiserringträger der Stadt Goslar 2013, kaiserring.de (incl. Press Release, 2013-01-11)
- Goslarer Kaiserring - Olafur Eliasson geehrt als Künstler auf den Spuren da Vincis, zeit.de (January 11, 2013)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Olafur Eliasson|
- Olafur Eliasson Official website
- Video of Olafur Eliasson conference : The Sun has no money
- Institut für Raumexperimente
- MoMA 2008: Olafur Eliasson: take your time
- 1998 article from frieze
- Tate Modern: The Weather Project
- SFMOMA 2007: Olafur Eliasson Survey
- 'Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson' at SFMOMA
- Olafur Eliasson: Your Mobile Expectations
- Olafur Eliasson on Arttube (Museum Boijmans van Beuningen)
- New York City Waterfalls
- Public Art Fund
- Art Info interview with Olafur Eliasson
- http://www.fundacionnmac.org/english/coleccion.php?id=93 [Olafur Eliasson at the Fundación NMAC]
- Article on Olafur Eliasson in ARTnord 10
- Video of Olafur Eliasson explaining Harpa's glass facade
- TateShots: Olafur Eliasson The artist talks about his recent work, Your Blind Passenger (2010). 30 June 2011