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Oklahoma Contemporary
Olafur Eliasson (Source: Netflix)
A figure in glasses cranes their neck to thoughtfully examine a light sculpture emitting a yellow light

New Light

Aug. 25, 2020

#ArtistSpotlight: Olafur Eliasson

The Bright Golden Haze artist lights up the world
A figure is obscured by shadow as they observe a light sculpture emitting a warm golden glow from a black spherical object
Olafur Eliasson's Black glass eclipse (2017), on view in Oklahoma Contemporary's inaugural Bright Golden Haze, emits a mono-frequency light that cancels all color. (Photo by Alex Marks.)

The art of Olafur Eliasson doesn't exist in a vacuum. Driven by a fascination with "perception, movement and embodied experience," the Danish-Icelandic artist creates conceptual works designed to prompt thoughtful consideration of the possibilities and problems of the world around us.

"I hope that it's not as if you had stepped into some kind of dream machine and then you walk back out into reality," Eliasson told Dezeen about experiencing his work. "I really hope that you step closer to reality and see things in higher granularity."

Spanning sculpture, painting, photography, film and installation, Eliasson's art is both in and of the world. Alongside the more than 100 members of his studio team — from architects to programmers and points in between — his work often breaks free from the boundaries of traditional gallery spaces, engaging the public sphere by personalizing social issues that can sometimes feel shrouded in abstraction.

A person kisses a giant block of glacial ice on the streets of London
Ice Watch (2014) by Olafur Eliasson outside Tate Modern in London, 2018. (Photo: Justin Sutcliffe / olafureliasson.net)

“I’m very curious about how to make something which appears to be distant feel relevant, immediate, and like it has an impact on your life,” Eliasson told High Snobiety. The artist brings that immediacy to the climate crisis in works like Ice Watch, in which giant blocks of harvested glacial ice were left to melt in the streets of world cities like Paris and London.

In 2012, Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen took the artist's social mission into a new space with the founding of Little Sun. The goal of the "social business" is to "raise global awareness of the need for equal access to energy and light," providing clean, affordable energy to communities without access to electricity through the sale of Little Sun solar-powered lamps and chargers.

You can pick up your own Little Sun solar lamp from the Oklahoma Contemporary retail store — and of course you can reserve your space now to experience Eliasson's Black glass eclipse in person at our inaugural Bright Golden Haze exhibition. In the meantime, check out the interview below, about the artist's 2019 retrospective at London's Tate Modern.


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Bright Golden Haze Olafur Eliasson concept art light sculpture climate change

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