Olafur Eliasson (Danish, b.1967) creates sensory experiences that highlight the interaction between the spectator, object, and environment; his interest in the five senses and how they guide us through experiences is evident and consistent throughout his body of work. In 2003, Eliasson replicated elements of nature in his The Weather Project, which was installed in the Turbine Hall of London’s Tate Modern, drawing upwards of two million visitors.
Eliasson was born in Copenhagen in 1967 to Icelandic parents. He attended the Royal Academy of Arts in Copenhagen from 1989 to 1995. After school, he opened Studio Olafur Eliasson in Berlin, a laboratory for artistic creation and spatial research. Adding materials such as fog, water, light, and reflective surfaces to open spaces, Eliasson’s projects and installations make for immersive and unexpected experiences that highlight the ephemeral qualities of our surroundings. In 1997, Your sun machine focused on the lapse of time as determined by the sun’s path across earth. Viewers entered into a room with a single hole in the roof in order to witness the small patch of sunlight make its progress throughout the day.
Eliasson makes clear the importance of viewers and their presence, often addressing them directly in the titles of his works. In 2009, Eliasson explored light through alternative means in his Your atmospheric colour atlas, which was on exhibition at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan. Filling a gallery with fog and color, the exhibition invited visitors to blend into the spectrum, mixing light to create their own interpretations.
The artist currently lives and works in Berlin, where he was a professor at the Berlin University of the Arts. His studio now employs more than 40 people as artists, architects, scientists, and technicians. However, his endeavors extend beyond the art world. He launched his Little Sun project in 2012, after working with an engineer to develop solar-powered lights for areas of the world with minimal access to electricity.
Eliasson has received many awards throughout his career, his most recent accolade being the 2014 Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT in Cambridge, MA. His work is represented in public and private collections worldwide, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Tate in London.