Olafur Eliasson

Nationality : Danish

Birth Year : 1967

Place of Birth : Copenhagen, Denmark

Specialities : Contemporary Art


Occupation: Sculptor; Installation Artist
Movement: Contemporary Art
Education: Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen
Famous artworks
“The Inner Cave,” 1998
“1m3 Light,” 1999
“Fivefold Eye,” 2000
“River Raft,” 2000
“Color Vision Kaleidoscope,” 2003
“Quadruple Spiral Projection,” 2004
“To Day,” 2005
“Your Space Eruption,” 2009
Olafur Eliasson is an installation artist and sculptor of Icelandic and Danish origin, best known for his large-scale pieces composed of elemental components such as temperature, humidity, water and light. 
Early Life
Born in Copenhagen in February of 1967, Olafur Eliasson is the son of Ingibjorg Olafsdottir and Elias Hjorleifsson who had moved to Denmark the previous year to find work as a tailor and cook respectively. After they separated in 1975, custody of Eliasson fell to his mother and her new husband, who worked as a stockbroker in the capital. His father returned to his native Iceland to pursue a career in the arts and became a prime influence upon his son’s later decision to do the same. At 15, Eliasson mounted his first solo exhibition, showcasing a series of miniature watercolors and landscapes at an independent gallery in Copenhagen. Nevertheless, as an adolescent, it was his breakdancing that he considered of vital importance and through most of his years in secondary school dedicated himself to the Harlem Gun Crew, a group he founded with two classmates. They were relatively successful, performing at nightclubs and dance halls in the 1980s, and eventually won the Scandinavian championship. 
In 1987, after his grandfather’s suicide and his father’s subsequent hospitalization due to alcohol abuse, Eliasson returned to Iceland to help raise his infant half-sister, Anna Viktoria. During this time, he enrolled at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and received a travel grant from the institution in 1990, enabling him to travel to New York to serve as an assistant to Christian Eckhart. 
After a brief period in Cologne, the artist graduated from the Royal Academy and established a studio in an unused railway depot in Berlin. In 1996, he began collaborating with the older architect Einar Thorsteinn, an old friend of inventor and systems theorist Buckminster Fuller. The first of their shared artworks, titled “8900054”, was a seven-foot-high dome built to appear as if it were growing from underground — an optical illusion made possible by Thorsteinn’s comprehensive knowledge of space and geometry. This positive experience led Eliasson to collaborate with specialists in different fields on his installations, including the writer Svend Age Madsen, theorist Cedric Price and architect Sebastian Behmann. 
In 1998, the artist turned the River Spree fluorescent green with uranin during the Berlin Biennale, repeating the process without prior warning in Bremen, Los Angeles and Tokyo over the next four years. His constant play with spatial theory had led to numerous avant-garde projects such as 2003’s “Weather Project,” in which Eliasson used humidifiers to emit a mist of sugar and water while a large monochromatic disc radiated yellow light. Viewers would often lie down on the floor in order to view themselves on the giant mirror on the building’s ceiling, seeing themselves as small black shadows against a predominant orb of light. His atelier in Berlin currently serves as a research laboratory and employs a large team of engineers, architects and craftsmen to help conceptualize and construct large-scale projects and commissions. 
In 2009, Eliasson established the Institute for Spatial Experiments at the Berlin University of the Arts, where he works as a faculty member. He presently divides his time between Berlin and Copenhagen, where he lives with his wife and two children.  
1967  -  Born in Denmark
1975  -  Begins living with his mother and new stepfather
1982  -  Mounts his first solo exhibition as an amateur artist
1987  -  Returns to Iceland
1989  -  Enrolls at the Royal Danish Academy of Art
1996  -  Begins collaborating with Thorsteinn
2009  -  Founds the Institute for Spatial Experiments
Major exhibitions
1994  -  Forumgalleriet, Malmo
1994  -  Stalke Galleri, Copenhagen
1995  -  Neugerriemschneider, Berlin
1996  -  Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York
2000  -  Naoshima Contemporary Art Mueum, Kagawa
2003  -  Tate Modern, London
2004  -  Museum of Modern Art, Oslo
2006  -  Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo
2009  -  Niels Borch Jensen Galerie, Berlin
2010  -  Galeria Elvira Gonzalez, Madrid
2011  -  PinchukArtCentre, Kiev
2012  -  Tate Modern, London
Museums / collections
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Art Institute of Chicago
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
Kunstmuseum Basel
Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg
Books / publications
“Olafur Eliasson: Your Only Real Thing is Time” by Jessica Morgan and Jill Medvedow
“Contact” by Olafur Eliasson
“Olafur Eliasson” by Madeleine Grynsztejn and Daniel Birnbaum
“Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson” by Madeleine Grynsztejn
“Contact is Content” by Olafur Eliasson

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 J?kulsgilskvisl aus: Double Exposure by Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson

J?kulsgilskvisl aus: Double Exposure

Karl & Faber, Munich

December 3, 2015

$4,368  USD

 [Untitled] by Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson


Dorotheum, Vienna

November 26, 2015

$8,621  USD

 Iceland series 2006 # 10 by Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson

Iceland series 2006 # 10

Bruun Rasmussen Kunstauktioner, Bredgade

November 24, 2015

$2,852  USD

 Your space eruption by Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson

Your space eruption

Phillips, New York

November 10, 2015

$221,000  USD

 Eisskulptur by Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson


Kunsthaus Lempertz, Cologne

November 9, 2015


 Untitled by Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson


Christie's, London

October 20, 2015

$2,500  USD

 Schinkel Sonne (Schinkel Sun) by Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson

Schinkel Sonne (Schinkel Sun)

Christie's, London

October 17, 2015

$189,128  USD

 Your Body As Eye by Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson

Your Body As Eye

Christie's, London

October 17, 2015


 Parabolic thinking by Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson

Parabolic thinking

Sotheby's, London

October 16, 2015

$17,369  USD


Ai Weiwei Cancels Show in Denmark, Berlin Considers Alternatives for Goebbels’s Villa, and More

By Noelle Bodick | January 28, 2016

— Ai Weiwei Cancels Show to Protest Danish Migrant Law: Ai Weiwei has closed his exhibition in Copenhagen after parliament passed a bill allowing authorities to take valuables from...

Olafur Eliasson Named Palace of Versailles 2016 Guest Artist

By Nicholas Forrest | January 28, 2016

The Palace of Versailles has chosen Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson as its 2016 Guest Artist. He follows Jeff Koons in 2008, Xavier Veilhan in 2009, Takashi Murakami in 2010, Bernar Venet...

Olafur Eliasson to Unveil Epic “Ice Watch” Artwork in Paris

By Nicholas Forrest | November 30, 2015

Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson  announced that his “Ice Watch” climate-change installation will open to the public at the Place du Panthéon in Paris on Thursday December 3 to...

Olafur Eliasson Bends the Baroque in Belvedere’s Winter Palace

By Nicholas Forrest | November 24, 2015

Belvedere’s Winter Palace in Vienna is the site of a major intervention by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. Titled “BAROQUE BAROQUE,” the exhibition explores connections between...

France Offers Financial Relief for Arts Institutions Impacted by Attacks, Nazi-Looted Works Discovered at German Museum, and More

By Mostafa Heddaya | November 19, 2015

— France Offers Financial Relief for Arts Institutions Impacted by Attacks: French minister of culture Fleur Pellerin has announced €4 million in funding for arts institutions in the...

Olafur Eliasson Works from the Boros Collection at Langen Foundation

By BLOUIN ARTINFO | April 17, 2015

Usually, Christian Boros’ art collection is shielded by the massive walls of a former bunker in Berlin, that he and his wife Karen have made their home-cum-exhibition space. This month, a...

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Olafur Eliasson’s Ice Watch Climate Change Artwork

By Nicholas Forrest | November 30, 2015

Olafur Eliasson’s “BAROQUE BAROQUE” in Vienna

By Nicholas Forrest | November 24, 2015

Little Sun Solar Phone Charger by Olafur Eliasson

By Nicholas Forrest | September 6, 2015

Olafur Eliasson at the Langen Foundation

By BLOUIN ARTINFO | April 17, 2015