Olafur Eliasson - Pictures, Art, Photography

Olafur Eliasson

Background Information about Olafur Eliasson


Hiking through the Icelandic landscape requires immersing yourself with nature. Within the solitude of the mosses, lichen, and volcanic rock it’s difficult to tell whether you are 30 minutes, three hours, or three days away from anyone else, Olafur Eliasson once said. Optics and perspectives are especially important in his works of art, and they’re very influential in his creative process.

Waterfalls are a recurring motif in the Eliasson’s work. It all started in 1996 in Iceland with his photo documentation, when he shot the Seljalandsfoss. The concept was built upon in 1998 with his installations, Waterfall and Reversed Waterfall. In 2008 he built four monumental artificial waterfalls in the East River as part of his New York City Waterfalls project.

The two works at Seljalandsfoss mirror one another from their springs. This creates an abstract, Rorschach-like composition of a waterfall that flows both up and down, making it difficult to determine the water's original course of direction. The visual duality of the artwork is both thrilling and surreal. If the reversed shot hangs normally, the “real” Seljalandsfoss falls upwards, it’s surprisingly hard to decipher between reality and illusion.

Born in 1967, Olafur Eliasson is a Danish artist with Icelandic roots who is known for his sculptures and large-format installations in which elementary materials such as light, water, and air temperature are used to intensify the viewer's experience. Quote: "People see space as a stacking of layers. But you can also create space by removing all surrounding elements and observing what remains."