The work of Olafur Eliasson is diverse, encompassing a variety of media, from sculpture and painting, to video and installation. His creative process is driven by his fascination for perception, motion and the relationship between nature, architecture and technology. His body of work combines science and technology, and immersing its viewers in physical as well as psychological experiences.
He represented Denmark for the 50th Venice Biennale and led projects in world-known museums like the Tate Modern and the MoMa. On top of his many institutional exhibitions, Olafur Eliassion’s art adresses a wider audience through large-scale architectural projects and public interventions.
Artsper has come up with a selection of 10 of our favorite artworks by this extraordinary artist!
1. Spherical Space, 2015
Inspired by the relationship between motion and the outside shape of schools of fish, Olafur Eliasson creates this motionless surface that mimics the fluid wave of the aquatic creatures. The geodesic lines of the sphere catch the eye of the viewer in a whirlwind of shapes and colors. Their own motion around the room is altered and the perception of the work’s triangles create the illusion of a constantly moving work.
2. Big Bang Fountain, 2014
This piece consists in dyed blue water illuminated by strobe light and pumped up before the viewer in quick bursts. The light catches the burst of water at its apex and freezes it for a second before it falls down again. Instead of witnessing the entire trajectory of the water, the viewer only catches a second of it, an apparition of sorts. Additionally, the installation is housed in a dark and circular room which creates maximum contrast with the bursts of blue water.
3. Bridge From the Future, 2014
This work reflects Olafur Eliasson’s interest for both the dynamic shapes of spirals and vortexes. Employing a model made by the artist in 2012, Bridge from the future recalls the shape of natural phenomenons like the Coriolis effect. The latter determines the direction of weather patterns and hurricanes through oceans or even black holes.
4. Contact, 2014
Olafur Eliasson’s installation Contact was made for his exhibition at the Louis Vuitton Foundation. A quadrant-shape room confronts the viewer with a line of mono-frequent light along a curved wall. The two other walls of the room are covered with mirrors. This prolongs the visual effect of the piece, creating the illusion of being in a completely circular room crossed by a horizon line.
5. Map for Unthought Thoughts, 2014
This work by Olafur Eliasson occupies a semicircular room in which mirrored walls give the viewer the impression of being in an entirely circular room. At the center of this room, a slowly rotating light projects the shadow of a series of concentric fences. The cast shadow forms a symmetrical and intricate patterns on the walls of the room. When the viewer moves, their perception of the fences evolves along with the size of their own shadow.
6. A View Becomes a Window, 2013
Created for Ivorypress, A View Becomes a Window is an edition of nine unique books. Instead of pages, this leather-bound book is made of tinted glass sheets of different quality and opacity. The glass sheets are hand-blown by German craftsmen –among the last ones on earth able to produce large-scale hand-blown glass. The edges of the sheets are irregular and each bears imperfections due to hand-made production.
Each page catches the light in a unique way. When they are turned, their superposition creates a complex reflection, making the viewer the protagonist of the book’s playful mirror narrative.
7. Wirbelwerk, 2012
The piece Wirbelwerk is composed of tinted and hand-blown polished metal tubes. Its spiral shape produces a powerful dynamic effect, by which Olafur Eliasson alludes to vortexes. The phenomenon is usually created by a mass of wind or water that spins around a central cavity or vacuum. Vortexes can suck whatever approaches it, like in hurricanes, the gallaxy or even bathtub drains.
Lit up from the inside, the piece projects a colorful shadow on the surrounding walls. It changes according to daylight, like a kaleidoscope.
8. Your Disappearing Garden, 2011
This installation by Olafur Eliasson consists of a room filled with pieces of obsidian rocks. It aims to recreate the type of volcano landscapes that Eliasson would see during his youth in the Icelandic highlands.
9. Feelings Are Facts, 2010
For Feelings Are facts, Olafur Eliasson releases artificial fog in a gallery space whose dimension have been altered. The result is a lowered ceiling and an inclined floor. Red, green and blue lights are cast from the ceiling and create new hues of colors when they cross. Walking on a flat surface is effortless. However, the floor’s inclination here makes the visit more unpredictable and forces the viewer to constantly shift balance.
10. Yellow Fog, 1998
For this piece, Olafur Eliasson uses fog machines and yellow lights. They’re installed in front of a building, under the ground. After dusk, waves of yellow fogs rise at the surface of the building.