Olafur Eliasson, ‘360 Degree Compass’, 2009, Headlands Center for the Arts: Benefit Auction 2018

Eliasson’s art is driven by his interests in perception, movement, embodied experience, and feelings of self. Eliasson strives to make the concerns of art relevant to society at large. Art, for him, is a crucial means for turning thinking into doing in the world. Eliasson’s diverse works in sculpture, painting, photography, film, and installation have been exhibited widely throughout the world. Not limited to the confines of the museum and gallery, his practice engages the broader public sphere through architectural projects and interventions in civic space. Olafur Eliasson grew up in Iceland and Denmark and studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. In 1995 he moved to Berlin and founded Studio Olafur Eliasson, which today encompasses some 90 craftsmen, specialized technicians, architects, archivists, administrators, programmers, art historians, and cooks.

Image rights: Courtesy of Berggruen Gallery

About Olafur Eliasson

“It is not just about decorating the world… but about taking responsibility,” Olafur Eliasson said of his practice in a 2009 TED Talk. Eliasson uses natural elements (like light, water, fog) and makeshift technical devices to transform museum galleries and public areas into immersive environments. Prompting reflection on the spaces surrounding us, for Green River (1998-2001) he poured bright green (environmentally safe) dye into rivers running through downtown L.A., Stockholm, Tokyo, and other cities to “show the turbulence in these downtown areas” and to remind passersby of the cities’ vitality. Similarly, by installing four large waterfalls in New York’s East River (2008), he intended to give the city a sense of dimension; Eliasson also famously installed a giant artificial sun inside the Tate Modern (The weather project, 2003). Known for their elegant simplicity and lack of materiality, his installations are rooted in a belief that art can create a space sensitive to both individual and collective.

Danish-Icelandic, b. 1967, Copenhagen, Denmark, based in Berlin, Germany