Olafur Eliasson: Experience is the wonderful new artist monograph from Phaidon. Eliasson was born in Copenhagen to Icelandic parents and is officially referred to as Icelandic-Danish, but it seems clear that his Icelandic heritage, as well as frequent stays on the island, has been a powerful influence on his work.
Anyone who has visited Iceland will know that the locals often see the world in a uniquely individual way (see our recent conversation with Ragnar Ktarjansson for example).
Icelandic culture includes a hefty dose of mythology alongside a widespread belief in the supernatural. This is hardly surprising when the landscape is filled with natural wonders such as volcanoes, earthquakes, avalanches and geysers. It seems natural that local artists are willing to add more than a dash of the magical or unexpected in to their work.
Eliasson’s work has much affinity with this tradition and Phaidon’s new publication Olafur Eliasson: Experience hints at this connection to the environment in the title.
This ‘Experience’ of Olafur Eliasson: Experience references the fact that his work is usually enjoyed via an active appreciation; one does not passively view an Eliasson artwork but rather engages with it. Eliasson consistently seeks to make his art relevant, whether inside or outside the museum.
His works frequently involves the likes of atmosphere, weather, space and water. One of his most viewed works, The weather project at Tate Modern, filled the gallery’s Turbine Hall with a glowing sun-like hemisphere. Museum visitors lay on the floor, as if soaking up the sun, and viewed their reflections in the mirrored ceiling above.
In another installation, 360 degrees Room For All Colours participants lose their sense of space and perspective in a misty room of bright colour.
Riverbed in 2014 at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art brought a rocky stream bed for visitors to negotiate within to the confines of a white gallery space.
His work also covers a wide range of media, from painting, sculpture, and photography, to architectural projects, installations, and ambitious interventions in urban space.
Bound in a striking yellow cloth, Olafur Eliasson: Experience provides a comprehensive survey tracking over 30 years of work. It opens with an essay by Michelle Kuo, a curator at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, introducing key aspects of Eliasson’s work, from geometry to geology, and from expressionism to empathy.
A conversation between the artist and his long-time collaborator Anna Engberg-Pedersen gives new insight into his creative process, as do exclusive photographs of his busy Berlin studio.
Eliasson’s work is presentation is chronologically, occasionally punctuated by double-page ‘Wunderkammer’ filled with geometric models, spheres, colour experiments, compasses, and other groupings of works. A full chronology completes the monograph.
An experience of Eliasson’s art is often via a single example of a large scale work. A publication such as this is absolutely essential to understand these works in a broader manner and provide a greater appreciation of his entire output.
Olafur Eliasson: Experience is a very welcome introduction to one of the most multi-faceted and influential artists working today.
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Size: 305 x 238 mm
Pages: 440 pp
Illustrations: 500 illustrations
ISBN: 978 071487 7587