ART BOOKS: Olafur Eliasson – Experience. Published by Phaidon

The weather project, 2003, monofrequency lamps, projection screen, haze machines, foil mirror, aluminium, scaffolding, 26.7 x 22.3 x 155.44 m (87 5⁄8 x 73 1⁄8 x 510 ft), installation view at Tate Modern, London, 2003. Picture credit: Tate photography, Andrew Dunkley & Marcus Leith (page 189)

The internationally celebrated artist Olafur Eliasson captivates audiences with his kaleidoscopic practice. This October, Phaidon will publish Olafur Eliasson: Experience, the most comprehensive book on his portfolio to date.

Eliasson consistently seeks to make his art relevant to society at large, engaging the public in striking ways both inside and outside the museum. The public has responded with sustained enthusiasm. His work covers a range of media, from painting, sculpture, and photography, to architectural projects, installations, and ambitious interventions in urban space. For Eliasson, the potential of art is created by the viewer’s own participation in – and experience with – the artwork. ‘Art isn’t bossy, it doesn’t tell us what to think or do,’ he says. ‘It offers a space, free of external interests, that you can claim as your own.’

New Berlin sphere (spring), 2010, stainless steel, coloured glass (yellow), glass surface mirror, aluminium, paint (black, yellow), light bulb, wire, cable, diameter 140 cm (55 1⁄8 in), from Spheres and polyhedral, 2007-16. Picture credit: Jens Ziehe (page 194, top right)

Conceived in close collaboration with the artist and his studio team, this comprehensive survey tracks nearly three decades of Eliasson’s artistic practice. Over 500 coloured illustrations, along with writings on and by Eliasson, provide an unparalleled overview of his remarkable output. The book features such large-scale projects as The weather project (2003), which drew over two million visitors to London’s Tate Modern; The New York City Waterfalls (2008), set up in New York Harbour and the East River; Green river (1998), which involved pouring – without advance warning – a water-soluble dye into various urban and rural waterways; and Ice Watch (2014), which brought enormous blocks of glacial ice to public squares in Copenhagen and Paris, making palpable the urgency of climate change. Alongside architectural works like Your rainbow panorama (2006–11) and Cirkelbroen (2015), Olafur Eliasson: Experience also showcases smaller artworks, from delicate pieces in glass, metal, and wood to a range of works on paper. Among the brand-new artworks included are Reality projector and The unspeakable openness of things, installed in spring 2018 in Los Angeles and Beijing respectively.

Room for one colour, 1997, monofrequency lamps, dimensions variable, installation view at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2005. Picture credit: Anders Sune Berg (pages 66-67)

Bound in a vibrant yellow cloth emblazoned on the back with an image of Beauty (1993), Olafur Eliasson: Experience opens with an adventurous essay by Michelle Kuo, a curator at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and former editor in chief of Artforum. The essay introduces key aspects of Eliasson’s work, from geometry to geology, and from expressionism to empathy. A conversation between the artist and his long-time collaborator Anna Engberg-Pedersen gives new insight into his creative process, as do exclusive photographs of his Berlin studio, where Eliasson works with more than a hundred team members. While the works are organised chronologically, the overall progression is occasionally punctuated by double-page ‘Wunderkammer’ filled with geometric models, watercolours, spheres, colour experiments in oil paint, compasses, and other groupings of works. A full chronology completes the monograph.

Engaging and timely, Olafur Eliasson: Experience is the ultimate companion to one of the most multi-faceted and influential artists working today. This elegant volume will appeal to Eliasson enthusiasts, art lovers, and newcomers alike.

Olafur Eliasson: Experience
Published by Phaidon
Hardback £65
500 colour illustrations
440 pages
305 x 238 mm
ISBN: 978 071487 7587

phaidon.com