N°91 Ólafur Elíasson
Ólafur Elíasson is an Icelandic-Danish artist whose work has been featured in museums all around the world. He is best known for his sculptures and large scale installations featuring elemental materials such as light, water and air temperature.
Although both of his parents were born and raised in Iceland, Elíasson was born in Copenhagen after they emigrated in 1966. After his parents separated he spent equal time in both Denmark and Iceland. Elíasson drew a lot of inspiration from his father (who was also an artist) and the beautiful landscapes that Iceland has to offer.
In the mid 1980’s Elíasson took up break-dancing and has considered it to be his first artwork. During this time he and two of his friends from school formed a group called Harlem Gun Crew. They performed for four years in dance halls and clubs and even won the Scandinavian championship.
It was when he was only just 15 years old that Elíasson had his first solo show in a small gallery in Denmark. It was soon after that he decided to pursue art as a career and studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. After his graduation, Elíasson moved to New York where he worked as a studio assistant for Christian Eckart. He also worked in Cologne and Berlin, where he has since opened his own studio, Studio Olafur Eliasson.
The Studio was created for spatial research and became a huge success. Some of Elíasson’s more famous installations include The Weather Project, the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, and The New York City Waterfalls. His work has also gained him many awards such as the Nykredit Architecture Prize, the Prince Eugen Medal for sculpture, and the Mies van der Rohe Award.
Elíasson represented Denmark at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003. That same year, he married Marianne Krogh Jensen, an art historian and adopted two children together. Currently they have separated and Elíasson continues to live and work in Berlin. Since moving around a lot Elíasson is fluent in four different languages including English, Icelandic, Danish and German.
More recently Elíasson has become an active advocate for climate change and has since been appointed as Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations Development Programme to advocate for urgent action on climate change and sustainable development goals.