Elmgreen & Dragset

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The artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset during the appointment of honorary doctorates at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in 2015

Michael Elmgreen (born 1961; Copenhagen, Denmark) and Ingar Dragset (born 1969; Trondheim, Norway) have worked together as an artist duo since 1995. Their work explores the relationship between art, architecture and design.

Elmgreen & Dragset live and work in Berlin. They are known for art work that has wit and subversive humour, and also addresses social and cultural concerns.[1][2]

Life and work[edit]

The duo met in Copenhagen in 1994, when Michael Elmgreen, who was born in the city in 1961, was writing and performing poetry, and Ingar Dragset, a Norwegian born in 1969, was studying theater.[3] They started collaborating in 1995 and moved to Berlin in 1997. In 2006, they bought a large 1000m2 former water-pumping station dating to 1924 in Berlin's Neukölln borough from the city[3] and converted it into a studio.[4] In 2008, Elmgreen moved to London, and in 2015, he moved back to Berlin.[5]

Since 1997, the artists have presented a great number of architectural and sculptural installations in an ongoing series of works entitled 'Powerless Structures'[6] in which they transformed the conventions of the 'white cube' gallery space, creating galleries suspended from the ceiling, sunk into the ground or turned upside down.[7] For the Istanbul Biennial in 2001, they constructed a full-scale model of a typical Modernist Kunsthalle descending into the ground while located outdoor among ancient ruins. Their work has also been shown in the Berlin, Istanbul, Liverpool, Moscow, São Paulo, Singapore, Gwangju Biennials.

Further exhibitions include transforming the Bohen Foundation in New York into a 13th Street Subway Station in 2004; their best-known project Prada Marfa, a Prada boutique inaugurated in 2005 and sited in the middle of the Texan desert; and their exhibition The Welfare Show in 2005–2006 at Serpentine Gallery, London / The Power Plant, Toronto / Bergen Kunsthall, Norway / BAWAG Foundation, Vienna, which was critically acclaimed.[2][8][9][10]

For the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009 they curated the exhibition The Collectors in the neighboring Danish and Nordic Pavilions (which include Norway, Sweden, and Denmark), an unprecedented merging of two international exhibition venues. For their show, they invited fellow artists Maurizio Cattelan, Tom of Finland, Han & Him, Laura Horelli, William E. Jones, Terence Koh, Klara Lidén, Jonathan Monk, Nico Muhly, Norway Says, Vibeke Slyngstad, Thora Dolven Balke, Nina Saunders, and Wolfgang Tillmans, among others.

In 2011, their sculpture Powerless Structures, Fig. 101 was chosen as the winner of the Fourth Plinth Commission to be displayed on the Fourth plinth of London's Trafalgar Square.[11] Their bronze sculpture of a boy astride a rocking horse questions the tradition for war monuments to celebrate either victory or defeat.[12] The work is now permanently installed outside the Arken Museum of Modern Art.[13]

In 2013 they curated an extensive public art program in Munich entitled “A Space Called Public/Hoffentlich Öffentlich”[14] and transformed the former textile galleries of the Victoria and Albert Museum into the grand family home of fictional architect Norman Swann.[15] Their exhibition series “Biography” took place in 2014–2105 at the Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo and the SMK–National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen. In 2015 their exhibition “Aéroport Mille Plateaux” turned the PLATEAU Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul into an airport inspired by the ideas of philosopher Gilles Deleuze.[16]

Van Gogh's Ear, 2016, in New York City's Rockefeller Center

For their solo exhibition “The Well Fair” in 2016, the duo transformed the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing into a fictional art fair.[17] Also in 2016, the artists installed Van Gogh’s Ear at Rockefeller Center in New York; the 9-meter (30-foot) high, empty swimming pool stands upright on its shortest side, supported by a visible construction on its backside.[18]

The artists’ first major overview in the UK, “This is How We Bite Our Tongue” was held at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, in 2018. The exhibition consisted of a large-scale site-specific installation and a survey of their sculptural works. The Whitechapel Pool, realised specifically for the show, transformed the ground-floor of the gallery into an abandoned public swimming pool fictionally dated to 1901 and related to the gentrification of the East End of London.[19]

Permanent installations[edit]

Prada-1346603 1280

In 2003, Elmgreen & Dragset won the German Government's competition for a memorial in Tiergarten park in Berlin, in memory of the gay victims of the Nazi regime, which was unveiled in May 2008.[20][21]

Several of their sculptures are now permanently installed for the public including their commission for the Fourth plinth, now outside the Arken Museum of Modern Art; Prada Marfa (2005), on the U.S. Highway 90 in Texas; Dilemma, a site-specific sculpture of a boy on a high diving board overlooking a fjord on the outskirts of Oslo and Han, a polished steel sculpture of a young man on a rock located in the centre of the harbor in Helsingør, Denmark.[22] Han was installed in 2012 and is based on Edvard Eriksen’s famous The Little Mermaid (statue). The figure sits in a similar pose, challenging conventional portrayals of masculinity.[23]

Performative works[edit]

In 2007, Elmgreen & Dragset developed Drama Queens, a theatre play about Twentieth Century art history with six remote-controlled versions of iconic sculptures, for Skulptur Projekte Münster.[24] During the 2008 Frieze Art Fair, they staged Drama Queens, this time enlivened by the voices of leading stage stars such as Kevin Spacey, at The Old Vic in London.[25]


Art market[edit]

Elmgreen & Dragset are represented by Pace Gallery (since 2020), Helga de Alvear, König Galerie, Kukje Gallery, Massimo De Carlo, Victoria Miro Gallery, Galleri Nicolai Wallner, Emmanuel Perrotin, and Taka Ishii Gallery.[32]

Solo exhibitions (selected)[edit]












  • "The Collectors" – The Danish and Nordic Pavilions, 53rd Venice Biennale, Venezia, Italy
  • "Drama Queens", Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
  • "Trying to Remember What We Once Wanted to Forget", MUSAC, León, Spain


  • "Too Late", Victoria Miro Gallery, London, UK
  • "Drama Queens", Old Vic Theatre, London, UK
  • "Home is the Place You Left", Trondheim Kunstmuseum, Trondheim, Norway
  • "Gedenkort für die im Nazionalsozialismus verfolgten Homosexuellen", Berlin, Germany
  • "Side Effects", Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris, France.[33]


  • "This is the first day of my life" Malmö Konsthall, Malmö, Sweden[34]
  • "Ti sto pensando", Villa Manin, Centre for Contemporary Art, Passariano, Italy
  • "A Change Of Mind", Kunst am Bauzaun, Museion Bozen, Italy


  • "The Welfare Show", Serpentine Gallery, London/The Power Plant, Toronto, Ontario, Canada[8]
  • "Disgrace", Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Miami, USA
  • "The Incidental Self", Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo, Japan[35]
  • "Would You Like Your Eggs A Little Different This Morning ?", Galleria Massimo De Carlo, Milan, Italy


  • "Prada Marfa", Art Production Fund/Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, Texas[36][37]
  • "The Brightness of Shady Lives", Galeria Helga de Alvear, Madrid, Spain
  • "The Welfare Show", Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen, Norway / BAWAG Foundation, Vienna, Austria
  • "Forgotten Baby", Wrong Gallery, New York, USA
  • "End Station", Bohen Foundation, New York, USA
  • "Linienstrasse 160, Neue Mitte", Klosterfelde, Berlin, Germany[38]



  • "Paris diaries", Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris, France[41]
  • "Phone Home", Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, USA
  • "Short Cut", Nicola Trussardi Foundation, Milan, Italy
  • "Spaced out", Portikus, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • "Please, Keep Quiet", Galleri Nicolai Wallner, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • "Constructed Catastrophes, Fig. 2", CCA, Kitakyushu, Japan
  • "Don't leave me this way", Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris, France


  • "How are You Today", Galleria Massimo de Carlo, Milan, Italy
  • "Powerless Structures, Fig. 229", Galeria Helga de Alvear, Madrid Spain
  • "Museum", Sala Montcada/Fundacio La Caixa, Barcelona, Spain
  • "Suspended Space", Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
  • CGAC, Santiago de Compostela, Spain


  • "Taking Place", Kunsthalle Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland
  • "Opening Soon", Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, USA
  • "A Room Defined by its Accessibility", Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Galleri Nicolai Wallner, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • "Linienstrasse 160", Klosterfelde, Berlin, Germany
  • "Powerless Structures, Fig. 111", Portikus, Frankfurt, Germany


  • "Zwischen anderen Ereignissen", Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig, Germany[42]
  • Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, Australia


  • Galleri Nicolai Wallner, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • "Powerless Structures, Fig. 57-60", The Project, New York, USA


  • "Dug Down Gallery / Powerless Structures, Fig. 45", Galleri i8 & Reykjavik Art Museum, Reykjavik, Iceland


  • "Powerless Structures", Galleri Campbells Occasionally, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • "Twelve Hours of White Paint/Powerless Structures, Fig. 15", Galleri Tommy Lund, Odense, Denmark

Group exhibitions (selected)[edit]






  • "What We Call Love, From Surrealism to Now", performance piece, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.
  • “Man in the Mirror”, Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels, Belgium
  • “Poor Art–Rich Legacy. Arte Povera and parallel practices 1968–2015”, Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo, Norway
  • “Slip of the Tongue”, Punta Della Dogana, Venice, Italy
  • “Panorama”, High Line Art, New York, USA
  • “Infinite Experience”, Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • “Days push off into nights”, Spring Workshop, Hong Kong
  • “All the World’s a Stage. Works from the Goetz Collection”, Fundación Banco Santander, Madrid, Spain
  • “No Hablaremos de Picasso”, Palacio Municipal Kiosko Alfonso, A Coruña, Spain
  • “more Konzeption Conception now”, Museum Morsbroich, Germany


  • “Power Memory People – Memorials of Today”, KØS Museum of Art in Public Spaces, Køge, Denmark
  • “GOLD”, Bass Museum of Art, Miami, USA
  • “do it Moscow”, Independent Curators International, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia
  • “Man in the Mirror”, Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels, Belgium
  • “Attention Economy”, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria
  • “Do Not Disturb”, Gerhardsen Gerner Gallery, Oslo, Norway
  • “LOVE AIDS RIOT SEX II, Art Aids Activism from 1995 until today”, NBGK | Neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst, Berlin, Germany


Powerless Structures, Fig. 11, 1997 at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark.



  • "Untitled" (12th Istanbul Biennial), Istanbul, Turkey
  • "You Are Not Alone", Joan Miró Foundation, Barcelona, Spain


  • "Fourth Plinth Commission, Six new proposals", The Foyer, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, UK


Elmgreen & Dragset's work is in the permanent collection of several museums across the world including:


  • Powerless Structures, Fig. 101, Mayor of London's Fourth Plinth Commission, Trafalgar Square, London, UK, 2012
  • Han commissioned by city of Helsingør, the sculpture installed in the center of the harbor basin as a protagonist in Kulturhavn Kronborg, 2012
  • Louis Vuitton New Bond Street Maison and Louis Vuitton Librairie, London, 2012[53]
  • To Whom It May Concern, FIAC HORS LES MURS, Place Vendôme, Paris, 2018[54]
  • Van Gogh’s Ear, Rockefeller Center, New York, 2016[55]


  • Elmgreen & Dragset: Sculptures (Berlin: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2019). ISBN 9783775746229
  • Elmgreen & Dragset (London: Phaidon, 2019). ISBN 9780714875712
  • This Is How We Bite Our Tongue (London: Whitechapel Gallery, 2018). ISBN 9780854882656
  • 15th Istanbul Biennial: a good neighbour: Exhibition and Stories (Istanbul: Istanbul Foundation for Culture and the Arts, 2017). ISBN 9786055275372
  • Die Zugezogenen (London: Koenig Books, 2017). ISBN 9783960981930
  • The Others (Berlin: König Galerie / London: Koenig Books, 2017). ISBN 9783960980698
  • The Well Fair, Elmgreen & Dragset (London: Koenig Books / Beijing: Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, 2016). ISBN 9783863358952
  • Aéroport Mille Plateaux, Elmgreen & Dragset (Seoul: PLATEAU, Samsung Museum of Art, 2015). ISBN 9788985468527
  • Biography, Elmgreen & Dragset (Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2014). ISBN 9783775738651
  • Biography (reader), Elmgreen & Dragset, Gunnar B. Kvaran and Kjersti Solbakken, eds. (Berlin: Archive Books, 2014). ISBN 9783943620184
  • A Space Called Public, Elmgreen & Dragset, eds. (Köln: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2013). ISBN 9783863354398
  • Elmgreen & Dragset: Trilogy, Peter Weibel and Andreas F. Beitin, eds., exh. cat., ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe (London: Thames & Hudson, 2011). ISBN 9783865609083
  • Elmgreen & Dragset: Performances: 1995-2011, Anita Iannacchione, ed. (Köln: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2011). ISBN 9783863350994
  • Elmgreen & Dragset: This is the First Day of My Life, Anna Stüler, ed. (Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2008). ISBN 9783775720502
  • Home is the Place You Left, Elmgreen & Dragset, Trondheim Kunstmuseum (Köln: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2008). ISBN 9783865604736
  • Prada Marfa, Elmgreen & Dragset (Köln: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2007). - no longer in print. ISBN 9783865601957
  • The Welfare Show, Elmgreen & Dragset (Köln: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2006). - no longer in print. ISBN 9783883759678
  • Taking Place, Beatrix Ruf, ed., exh. cat. Kunsthalle Zürich (Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2002). - no longer in print. ISBN 9783775711562
  • Zwischen anderen Ereignissen, exh. cat. (Leipzig: Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, 2000). - no longer in print.
  • Powerless Structures exh. cat. (1998). - no longer in print.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Holzwarth, Hans W. (2009). 100 Contemporary Artists A-Z (Taschen's 25th anniversary special ed.). Köln: Taschen. p. 164. ISBN 978-3-8365-1490-3.
  2. ^ a b "Last Chance: Elmgreen and Dragset at Victoria Miro, London". The Saatchi Gallery. 7 November 2008. Archived from the original on 2013-12-20. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  3. ^ a b Daniel Kunitz (November 22, 2012), [1] Art+Auction.
  4. ^ Wenin, Samila, "Art through irony", in The Bangkok Post, 15 September 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  5. ^ Reyburn, Scott (9 October 2015). "Once Subversive, Frieze Opens in a Changing London". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  6. ^ Elmgreen/Dragset, 20 October 2001 - 24 November 2001 Archived 31 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York.
  7. ^ Untitled: Elmgreen & Dragset, 12 May - 4 July 2004 Tate, London.
  8. ^ a b Sayej, Nadja (1 July 2006). "Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset: The Welfare Show". Parachute: Contemporary Art Magazine. Archived from the original on 2013-05-21. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  9. ^ Field, Frank (1 February 2006). "Another view: Frank Field MP on The Welfare Show". The Guardian. London: Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  10. ^ Campbell-Johnston, Rachel (24 January 2006). "We were only being boring". The Times. London: News International Limited. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  11. ^ "Trafalgar Square Fourth Plinth art choices revealed". BBC News. 14 January 2011.
  12. ^ Fourth Plinth: the work of Elmgreen & Dragset The Telegraph.
  13. ^ [2] Arken Museum of Modern Art.
  14. ^ "City of Munich: A Space Called Public". e-flux. 6 June 2013.
  15. ^ "Press Release: Tomorrow—Elmgreen & Dragset at the V&A" (PDF).
  16. ^ Shaw, Catherine (18 August 2015). "Transitional space: Elmgreen & Dragset create airport for Seoul's Plateau". Wallpaper*. Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  17. ^ Harris, Gareth (20 January 2016). "Elmgreen & Dragset create a fictional art fair in Beijing". The Art Newspaper. Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  18. ^ Elmgreen & Dragset: Van Gogh's Ear, April 13 – June 3, 2016 Rockefeller Center, New York.
  19. ^ [3] This Is How We Bite Our Tongue The Whitechapel Gallery.
  20. ^ Connolly, Kate (28 May 2008). "Germany remembers gay victims of the Nazis". The Guardian. London: Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  21. ^ "Germany unveils memorial to gay victims of Holocaust". The New York Times. 27 May 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  22. ^ [4] Ekebergparken.
  23. ^ [ [5] Han at Helsingør, Denmark.
  24. ^ Elmgreen & Dragset: Silent wishes and broken dreams..., June 01 - July 31, 2011 Goetz Collection, Munich.
  25. ^ Archer, Michael (22 August 2008). "The Old Vic - letting the art do the talking". The Guardian. London: Guardian News and Media Limited.
  26. ^ "Arken Art Prize: 2006". Arken Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  27. ^ "Kritikersalong ved utdelingen av Kunstkritikerprisen 2009 til Elmgreen og Dragset". Kritikerlaget / Norwegian Critics’ Association. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  28. ^ "Tildelinger af medaljer". Akademiraadet. Archived from the original on 2 February 2015. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
  29. ^ "Carl Nielsens and Anne Marie Carl-Nielsens Grant 2012". Den Frie. Archived from the original on 24 February 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  30. ^ "Honorary Doctors". www.ntnu.edu. Retrieved 2018-12-06.
  31. ^ Furberg, Kristoffer. "Kunstnerduo utnevnt til æresdoktorer" (in Norwegian). Universitetsavisa. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  32. ^ Alex Greenberger (June 29, 2020), Pace Gallery Takes on Elmgreen & Dragset, Beloved Duo Behind Prankish Sculptures ARTnews.
  33. ^ "Alberta Ferretti A Side Effects Un Abito Per Una Statua Di Elmgreen & Dragset..." Sfilate (in Italian). 22 January 2008. Archived from the original on 9 September 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2009.
  34. ^ "Malmö Konsthall, Elmgreen & Dragset, This is the First Day of My Life". Malmö Konsthall Website. 3 March 2007. Archived from the original on 20 December 2014. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  35. ^ Taka Ishii Gallery (Apr 22 – May 20, 2006). "Elmgreen & Dragset: The Incidental Self". Taka Ishii Gallery. Archived from the original on 2010-01-06. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  36. ^ Graczyk, Michael (20 February 2006). "Desert, cows and designer shoes; The handbags and pumps are part of the landscape of 'Prada Marfa,' an art piece that's turning heads in a West Texas town". Los Angeles Times. p. E18. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  37. ^ Mendelsohn, Adam E. (10 August 2005). "Stealing the Show". Artforum. Artforum International Magazine. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  38. ^ Allen, Jennifer, "Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, Klosterfelde (Linienstrasse)" in Artforum, October 2005, pp. 286-287.
  39. ^ Brown, Jonathan (12 May 2004). "Artists hope to ruffle feathers with model of dying sparrow". The Independent. Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd. Archived from the original on December 21, 2014. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  40. ^ Leitch, Luke (11 May 2004). "Watch the birdie; Twitching sparrow is a state of the art model at Tate Modern". The Evening Standard. Associated Newspapers Limited. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  41. ^ McBreen, Ellen, "Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset at Emmanuel Perrotin" in Art in America, 2003, pp. 155-156. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  42. ^ Bang Larsen, Lars (6 June 2000). "Whiteout". frieze magazine. Archived from the original on 2008-12-02. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  43. ^ [6] TBA21 Thyssen- Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna. Retrieved 2019-10-31.
  44. ^ [7] Kunsthalle Praha, Prague, Czech Republic. Retrieved 2019-10-31.
  45. ^ [8] Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Krefeld, Germany. Retrieved 2019-10-31.
  46. ^ [9] Benesse Art Site Naoshima. Retrieved 2019-10-31.
  47. ^ [10] Zuzeum Collection Site. Retrieved 2020-09-30.
  48. ^ [11] Aïshti Foundation. Retrieved 2019-10-31.
  49. ^ [12] Bergen Kunsthall.
  50. ^ [13] Kistefos Musem. Retrieved 2019-10-31.
  51. ^ [14] The Apro. Retrieved 2019-10-31.
  52. ^ [15] Zabludowicz Collection, London, UK. Retrieved 2019-10-31.
  53. ^ Nick Compton (September 25, 2012) Elmgreen & Dragset at the Louis Vuitton New Bond Street Maison, London Wallpaper.
  54. ^ Ted Loos (October 17, 2018) [16] The New York Times.
  55. ^ [17] Public Art Fund, Elmgreen & Dragset: Van Gogh’s Ear, 2016.

Further reading[edit]