- Olafur Eliasson: In real life, exhibition at London’s Tate Modern
The artist Olafur Eliasson returns to London with a major exhibition of his career to date. In 2003, his world-renowned installation The weather project marked a turning point for contemporary art, transforming the iconic Turbine Hall into a social space where sculpture was bound up with the experience of being together with other visitors.
In the 16 years since, Eliasson has been celebrated internationally as one of the most exciting artists working today. Now for the first time, UK audiences can discover the full range of his body of work, spanning three decades. The Tate Modern has brought together around 40 works, including some created especially for the exhibition.
Eliasson spent a lot of time in Iceland as a child, and natural phenomena such as water, light and mist have been key areas of investigation throughout his career. You can already notice this on the terrace outside Tate Modern, where visitors first encounter Waterfall 2019, a dramatic new installation measuring over 11 metres in height. Other works in the show address the impact humans have on the environment, including a series of photographs of Iceland’s glaciers taken by the artist in 1999. This will be replaced in the autumn by a new artwork that incorporates the old series alongside photos taken 20 years on, illustrating the changes in this landscape that are happening now.
Eliasson creates works that continually prompt viewers to think about the nature of perception. Many of his installations play with reflections, inversions, after-images and shifting colours, to challenge the way we navigate and perceive our environments.
The exhibition explores geometry as a major theme that continues to characterise Eliasson’s practice today, with many works, such as Stardust particle 2014, created using complex interlocking shapes and crystalline structures. A focal point is the extensive Model Room 2003, bringing together around 450 models, prototypes, and geometrical studies of various sizes that record Eliasson’s collaboration with his studio team and, notably, Icelandic artist, mathematician and architect Einar Thorsteinn (1942–2015).
The show culminates with a space called The Expanded Studio, which explores Eliasson’s deep engagement with social and environmental issues. This includes projects such as Little Sun, first launched at Tate Modern in 2012, which provides solar-powered lamps and chargers to communities without access to electricity; Green light and Ice Watch, an installation of glacial ice from Greenland, aims to increase awareness of the climate emergency.
Olafur Eliasson: In real life is accompanied by a series of public events throughout the gallery and in the Terrace Bar, as well as a new catalogue from Tate Publishing which gives insight into Eliasson’s thinking through conversations between the artist and a wide range of collaborators including architects, musicians, chronobiologists and neuroscientists. Following the presentation at Tate Modern, the exhibition will tour to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao from 14 February to 21 June 2020.
Exhibition: Olafur Eliasson: In real life
11 July 2019 to 5 January 2020
Tate Modern, London, UK
curated by Mark Godfrey, Senior Curator, International Art, and Emma Lewis, Assistant Curator, in close collaboration with Studio Olafur Eliasson