In the spectacular large-scale projects he’s famous for (such as “Waterfalls” in New York harbor), Olafur Eliasson creates art from a palette of space, distance, color and light. This idea-packed talk begins with an experiment in the nature of perception.
Denmark-born Icelander Olafur Eliasson has taken the art world by storm — and the meteorological dimensions of that statement are appropriate. His immensely popular The Weather Project, at London’s Tate Museum, immersed spectators in an artificial mirrored environment with its own looming sun (and its own analog of London fog), and attracted 2 million visitors in the process. In the summer of 2008, his four massive waterfalls spectacularly punctuated key sites in New York’s harbor — including one pouring from beneath the Brooklyn Bridge.
Eliasson’s works emphasize tricks of light, refraction and scale, and tend to involve each viewer in his or her own unique experience, as in Beauty, which, by passing light through a wall of fine mist, produces a different rainbow when viewed from different points in the gallery. And his works engage passers-by in urban environments — Eye See You, a project for Louis Vuitton (and meant to publicize 121 Ethiopia, an African nonprofit Eliasson co-founded with his wife), grabs viewers in the street with a beam of light shot from the window by an eye-shaped lamp.