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Artists Olafur Eliasson
Olafur Eliasson Photo

Olafur Eliasson

Danish-Icelandic Sculptor, Painter, Photographer, and Designer

Movement: Installation Art

Born: February 5, 1967 - Copenhagen, Denmark

Olafur Eliasson Timeline

Quotes

"I always try to make work that activates the viewer to be a co-producer of our shared reality."
Olafur Eliasson
"Over the years, in making art, I have constantly explored issues dealing with space, time, light, and society. I am particularly interested in how the light of a space determines how we see that space and similarly, in how light and color are actually phenomena within us, within our own eyes."
Olafur Eliasson
"My goal is to formulate a new color theory based on the full spectrum of visible light."
Olafur Eliasson
"I want to expose and evaluate the fact that the seeing and sensing process is a system that should not be taken for granted as natural - it's a cultivated means of reality production that, as a system, can be negotiated and changed."
Olafur Eliasson
"Light has an evident, functional and aesthetic impact on our lives."
Olafur Eliasson
"Artists are valuable to public discussion: They show the correlation between doing and thinking."
Olafur Eliasson
"I don't know a single collector or museum director who says: 'Oh, he's on a list, so I think I'll buy something of his.' The people who buy my art put a little more thought into it than that."
Olafur Eliasson

"I was interested in how we engage the world. How do we use our skin as our eyes?"

Olafur Eliasson Signature

Synopsis

A noted member of the Social Practice movement, Olafur Eliasson injects his work with a universal conscience that catapults art outside of its normal confines and challenges the way we inhabit the world. With each endeavor, he asks people to fully embody their human experience by expanding their feelings of self into a connection with the broader public sphere. His art is derived through a sincere practice in which he collaborates with experts in various fields to create diverse pieces intended to propose critical interventions within existing social systems, an effort that is designed to inspire debate and fresh perceptions, or to catalyze change. Eliasson has become a progressive leader in the kind of creative thinking that provokes the way people perceive culture, community, and the natural environment around them. Although his career has reached iconic status, Eliasson's core motivations set him apart from other superstars of the art world; whereas some artists of his stature are known for their superegos, altruism is the dominant trait in his reputation.

Key Ideas

Eliasson's underlying mission to make the world a better place is largely informed by work that asks viewers to think about their role in globalization and environmentalism. In doing this, he expands the historical role of Activist art with a focus less on the personal issues of our time and more on the overreaching concerns that beg current contemplation toward a more humanitarian future.
Eliasson strives to jostle the status quo by creating work that compels uncertainty, transforming the role of art beyond its simple aesthetic or experiential value and into a powerful tool for battling complacency. He has stated, "This uncertainty is important to me, as it encourages people to think and sense beyond the limits within which they are accustomed to function."
The artist's presentation of our communal experience of space, ambiguous materialization, and its constant state of flux is often derived from the juxtaposition of manmade and ephemeral elements. His interactions with natural phenomena such as light, water, air, and the environment have vastly dissolved the boundaries of what is considered traditional artistic medium.
Eliasson enforces his viewers to reconnect with the self, spurring reflection into their experiences within and relationship to the world at large. His work becomes a catalyst, which forwards the concept of individual agency.

Biography

Olafur Eliasson Photo

Childhood

Olafur Eliasson was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1967, a year after his 21-year-old parents, Elías Hjörleifsson and Ingibjörg Olafsdottir, immigrated to the city from Iceland. His mother, who was from an Icelandic fishing village dating back to the 11th century, found work as a dressmaker, while his father, who was an amateur artist, found work as a cook on a fishing boat. His father's family was from Reykjavík, Iceland's capital, where they were part of a small artistic community. Eliasson's grandmother was a photographer and his grandfather, who abandoned his family when Elías was young, was a publisher of avant-garde literature. Eliasson's own parents, who were young and inexperienced, divorced when he was four. Elías, following in his own father's footsteps, moved back to Iceland, leaving a young Olafur fatherless throughout much of his childhood and adolescence. During his infrequent trips to visit his father, Eliasson began making drawings as a way to impress him. By the time he was 14 he could draw every bone in the human body, and at 15, he had his first art show - displaying several landscape paintings at an alternative art space in Denmark.

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Olafur Eliasson Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Olafur Eliasson
Interactive chart with Olafur Eliasson's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Robert RauschenbergRobert Rauschenberg
James TurrellJames Turrell
Bruce NaumanBruce Nauman
Gordon Matta-ClarkGordon Matta-Clark

Personal Contacts

Hans HaackeHans Haacke
Robert IrwinRobert Irwin

Movements

Land ArtLand Art
Relational AestheticsRelational Aesthetics
Conceptual ArtConceptual Art
Installation ArtInstallation Art

Influences on Artist
Olafur Eliasson
Olafur Eliasson
Years Worked: 1993 - present
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Personal Contacts

Bill Gates
Kofi Annan
Hans Ulrich Obrist

Movements

Contemporary ArtContemporary Art
Installation ArtInstallation Art
Social Practice

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Katelyn Davis

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Kimberly Nichols

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Katelyn Davis
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Kimberly Nichols
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