Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson (b. 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 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. 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.

The weather project was installed at the London’s Tate Modern in 2003 as part of the popular Unilever series. The installation filled the open space of the gallery’s Turbine Hall. 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 single frequency 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.

The Your Black Horizon project was a light installation commissioned for the Venice Biennale. 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.

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.

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 in 2008.

The Parliament of Reality is a sculpture at Bard College in New York. The installation is based on the original Icelandic parliament, Althingi, one of the world’s earliest democratic forums. 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.

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