Olafur Eliasson is someone who strives to make his art relevant to society, engaging us in memorable ways both inside and outside the gallery.
Driven by his interests in perception, movement, and the interaction of people and their environments, he creates artworks which offer experiences that can be shared by those who see them. Now’s your chance to experience some of them again in the first major survey of his work at Tate Modern.
Launching on 11 July, Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life is an unmissable exhibition of his career to date, bringing together 40 works spanning the last three decades – from celebrated early installations like Beauty (1993) to new paintings and sculptures. The show will also examine Eliasson’s deep engagement with issues of climate change, sustainable energy and migration as well as architecture.
Your spiral view, 2002 Stainless steel, mirror, steel 3200 x 3200 x 8000 mm Installation view at Fondation Beyeler, Basel, Switzerland, 2002 Photographer: Jens Ziehe Boros Collection, Berlin © 2002 Olafur Eliasson
Room for one colour, 1997 Monofrequency lamps Dimensions variable Installation view at PinchukArtCentre, Kiev, 2011 Photo: Dmitry Baranov Courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles © 1997 Olafur Eliasson
Cold wind sphere, 2012 Stainless steel, coloured glass (dark blue, blue and light grey), mirror, colour-effect filter glass (blue), bulb ø 1700 mm Photo: Jens Ziehe Centre Pompidou, Paris © 2012 Olafur Eliasson
Each installation, or group of works, will encompass one of these explored themes, beginning with Eliasson’s early investigations into space, motion and natural phenomena, as considered in Moss Wall (1994), featuring lichen native to the artist’s homeland Iceland – right through to his experiments with light, colour, geometry, perception and participation, such as Stardust Particle (2016).
Other installations like Your Spiral View (2002) and Your Uncertain Shadow (2010) incorporate reflections shadows to play with the way we navigate or perceive the world. Together, they reflect the artist’s core principle of “seeing yourself sensing”. As the works reveal the mechanisms behind their own making, we’re invited to consider the physical and psychological processes that contribute to how we experience them.
Stardust particle, 2014 Stainless steel, translucent mirror-filter glass, wire, motor, spotlight Ø 1760 mm Tate Photo: Jens Ziehe, 2017 © 2014 Olafur Eliasson
Ice Watch Blocks of glacial ice Dimensions variable Supported by Bloomberg Installation: Bankside, outside Tate Modern, 2018 Photo: Charlie Forgham Bailey © 2018 Olafur Eliasson and Minik Rosing
Big Bang Fountain, 2014 Water, strobe light, pump, nozzle, stainless steel, wood, foam, plastic, control unit, dye 1650 x 1600 x 1600 mm Installation view at Moderna Museet, Stockholm 2015 Photo: Anders Sune Berg Courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York/Los Angeles © 2014 Olafur Eliasson
The show will culminate with a space exploring Eliasson’s works on social and environmental issues. Projects such as Little Sun, first launched at Tate Modern in 2012, which provides solar-powered lamps and chargers to communities without access to electricity… or Ice Watch, an installation featuring glacial ice from Greenland to highlight climate change.
Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life is at Tate Modern from 11 July 2019 until 5 January 2020.