Olafur Eliasson

Born 1967.
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Works by Olafur Eliasson at Sotheby's

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Olafur Eliasson Biography

Olafur Eliasson’s large-scale installation art utilizes the ephemeral and elemental—light, water, fog, air temperature—to immerse and engage spectators in meditations on sensation and perception. Often working in collaboration with architects, engineers, theorists and writers, Eliasson’s vast and varied oeuvre also encompasses sculpture, painting, photography, film, site-specific work, architectural projects, education and policy-making, among other endeavors. Throughout, Eliasson’s predominating interest is in translating the concerns of art to society at large.

Eliasson was born in 1967 in Copenhagen, Denmark, to Icelandic Parents. He studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, earning his degree in 1995. Upon graduating, he established Studio Olafur Eliasson, a “laboratory for spatial research,” in Berlin. The multidisciplinary studio, along with numerous projects with architects like Einar Thorsteinn and Sebastian Behmann, have carved out a distinctively collaborative space for Eliasson in the contemporary art world, with work that transcends traditional artistic media. For Green River (1998-2001), Eliasson poured green nontoxic dye into the rivers running through Los Angeles, Stockholm, Tokyo and other international cities to highlight their turbulence and vitality. In 2003, The Weather Project, an immersive recreation of sun, sky and fog, was installed in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern in London, drawing over 2 million visitors. From 2009 to 2014, as a professor at the Berlin University of the Arts, Eliasson led the Institute for Spatial Experiments, and, in 2012, Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen founded Little Sun, a global project to provide clean affordable energy to communities without access to electricity. Most recently, Eliasson and Behmann established Studio Other Spaces in Berlin, an architectural counterpart to Studio Olafur Eliasson.

Today, Eliasson lives and works between Copenhagen and Berlin. Studio Olafur Eliasson currently employs over 100 people as craftsmen, architects, archivists, researchers, historians and technicians. He is the recipient of numerous awards, most recently the Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT (2014). His work is in the collections of institutions around the world including the Museum of Modern Art and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Tate Gallery, London, and the Kunstmuseum Basel.

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Artist Image: 2015 Mathis Wienand