The work of Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson has been exhibited at some of the biggest museums, galleries and shows in the world, including MoMA, New York, Tate Modern, the Venice Biennale, and our own Hayward Gallery. On the publication of his new illustrated book, Olafur Eliasson: Experience, he returned to Southbank Centre to join us as part of London Literature Festival, for a talk about his work and themes.
But before Eliasson took to our Queen Elizabeth Hall stage we thought we’d take look back at four of the most iconic installations from an artist who seeks to make his art relevant to society at large, and engage the public be they inside or outside the gallery.
The weather project, 2003, monofrequency lamps, projection screen, haze machines, foil mirror, aluminium, scaffolding, 26.7 x 22.3 x 155.44 m (87 5⁄8 x 73 1⁄8 x 510 ft), installation view at Tate Modern, London, 2003. Picture credit: Tate photography, Andrew Dunkley & Marcus Leith
Eliasson’s most celebrated large-scale installation and the one for which he will perhaps be most well-known to a British audience. In 2003 Eliasson’s The Weather Project transformed the Tate Modern’s huge Turbine Hall into a captivating artificial environment with representations of the sun and sky dominating the space. The site-specific work drew over two million visitors to the gallery.
The New York City Waterfalls, 2008 (four waterfalls positioned along New York’s East River), water, scaffolding, steel grillage and troughs, pumps, piping, intake filter pool frames and filter fabric, LED lights, ultra-violet filters, concrete, switch gears, electrical equipment and wiring, control modules, anemometers. Picture: creative commons
Commissioned by the Public Art Fund, The New York City Waterfalls was a temporary installation,which ran from mid-July to mid-October 2008. The piece consisted of four huge man-made waterfalls, constructed from scaffolding, which were located along New York’s East River.
Your rainbow panorama, 2006–11, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark. Picture credit: Lars Aarø
This permanent work, set atop the ARoS Kunstmuseum in Denmark, consists of a circular walkway enclosed by multicolored transparent panels representing the full color spectrum. Extending from one edge of the museum's façade to the other, the vivid rainbow hues invite visitors to walk around the structure, experiencing panoramic city views through the various tones.
Ice Watch, 2014, (with Minik Rosing), 12 blocks of glacial ice, dimensions variable, installation views at Place du Panthéon, Paris, 2015. Picture credit: Martin Argyroglo
For Ice Watch Eliasson harvested twelve large blocks of ice cast off from the Greenland ice sheet from a fjord outside Nuuk, and then presented them in a clock formation. The first installation of Ice Watch was in Copenhagen’s City Hall Square in October 2014, followed by a second installation at Paris’ Place du Panthéon. The work raises awareness of climate change by providing a direct and tangible experience of the reality of melting arctic ice.
All of the above works are featured in the artist’s new book Olafur Eliasson: Experience, which spans the career of the artist todate. The book is published by Phaidon and available now.
Southbank Centre is the home of literature and spoken word events in the UK, and the venue for London Literature Festival and Poetry International. Throughout the year we host talks, discussions, readings and more featuring bestselling authors, award-winning poets and inspirational writers.