Olafur Eliasson as seen in the gallery, studio and real world

Riverbed, by Olafur Eliasson, 2014, installation views at Louisiana Museum of Modern, Art, Humlebæk, Denmark, 2014
Riverbed, by Olafur Eliasson, 2014, installation views at Louisiana Museum of Modern, Art, Humlebæk, Denmark, 2014.
(Image credit: Anders Sune Berg)

The most comprehensive survey of Olafur Eliasson's career to date has been published by Phaidon, conceived in close collaboration with the artist and his studio team, offering a broad yet detailed overview of the renowned artist's 30-year oeuvre.

To see an Eliasson exhibition, though visually indelible and very often moving, is to witness specially selected arms of his creative practice. Olafur Eliasson: Experience succinctly brings the artist's myriad ideas, installations, architecture, performances, philosophies and philanthropies, (a catalogue of achievement difficult to express fully under one roof) together, under one, bright yellow cover.

‘To make art, for me, is to be in dialogue with the world,' the artist writes in an interview with his longtime collaborator Anna Engberg-Pedersen. ‘Looking at art – or meeting up with art, as I sometimes say – requires a blending of perception, emotion and cognition that I find relevant to almost everything we – as people – do.' Through interviews, texts by and about Eliasson, alongside never-before-seen photographs of his Berlin studio, we ‘meet up with' Eliasson's work personally and profoundly, as if tracking the globe exhibition-hopping and architectural site-seeing.

Olafur Eliasson, Experience, book published by Phaidon

Contact, 2014, installation view at Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, France, 2014.

(Image credit: Iwan Baan)

To understand Eliasson's 100-strong Berlin team is to understand the way he works, thinks, and creates. Famed for its community atmosphere, the studio sprawls across four floors of a converted 19th-century brewery, now piled high with books, archive works and objects in progress. All staff sit down together for ‘daily vegetarian meals' from a kitchen that ‘works to promote sustainable healthy cooking'. The new photo-essay included in Experience reveals the studio to be a wildly collaborative laboratory of experiment, failure and success. It features and references the vital work of the craftspeople, administrative staff, cooks and researchers; giving them a moment in the yellow-hued spotlight, which is so often trained directly on Eliasson. 

The book concludes with a valuable chronology that spans ten pages in tiny type, and makes for engaging reading, from the project's names and descriptions, alongside influential personal milestones like his ‘first visit to Berlin' in 1989. Here, line by line, the real scope of Eliasson and Studio Olafur Eliasson's achievement falls into sharp relief. From 1999's statement-making Green river, which involved pouring soluble green dye into rivers and waterways, to 2014's Ice Watch, which brought enormous blocks of glacial ice to public squares in Copenhagen and Paris, making palpable the urgency of climate change, Eliasson has done the rare thing of captivating both the art world, and the world at large.

Olafur Eliasson: Experience, Phaidon

Olafur Eliasson: Experience, Phaidon

(Image credit: press)

Facades for Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre, Reykjavik, Iceland (2005–11)

Facades for Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre, Reykjavik, Iceland (2005–11), Olafur Eliasson and Studio Olafur Eliasson in collaboration with Henning Larsen Architects.

(Image credit: Ari Magg)

New Berlin sphere (spring), 2010, from Spheres and polyhedral, by Olafur Eliasson 2007-16

New Berlin sphere (spring), 2010, from Spheres and polyhedral, by Olafur Eliasson 2007-16.

(Image credit: Jens Ziehe)

Olafur Eliasson: Experience, Phaidon; selected glass works, 2016-17

Olafur Eliasson: Experience, Phaidon; selected glass works, 2016-17

(Image credit: press)

Your compound daylight, by Olafur Eliasson, 1998, installation view at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2015

Your compound daylight, by Olafur Eliasson, 1998, installation view at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2015.

(Image credit: Anders Sune Berg)

The weather project, 2003, installation view at Tate Modern, London, 2003

The weather project, 2003, installation view at Tate Modern, London, 2003.

(Image credit: Tate photography, Andrew Dunkley & Marcus Leith)

Olafur Eliasson: Experience, Phaidon; Reality Projector, 2018 (installation Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles)

Olafur Eliasson: Experience, Phaidon; Reality Projector, 2018 (installation Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles)

(Image credit: press)

INFORMATION

Olafur Eliasson: Experience, published by Phaidon. For more information, visit the website (opens in new tab)

Elly Parsons is the Digital Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees Wallpaper.com and its social platforms. She has been with the brand since 2015 in various roles, spending time as digital writer – specialising in art, technology and contemporary culture – and as deputy digital editor. She was shortlisted for a PPA Award in 2017, has written extensively for many publications, and has contributed to three books. She is a guest lecturer in digital journalism at Goldsmiths University, London, where she also holds a masters degree in creative writing. Now, her main areas of expertise include content strategy, audience engagement, and social media.