The theory of the sublime, that overwhelming emotion of greatness beyond all possibility of calculation, measurement or imitation, is a concept artists have grappled with for centuries. From paintings of sea storms by JMW Turner to the violent dramas of Henry Fuseli, the sublime remains a constant source of fascination. The late 1990s saw a resurgence in interest in the sublime when conceptual artists, who were also concerned with the environment, began making artworks that questioned humanity’s role in the destruction of nature. Perhaps the most famous of these artists is Olafur Eliasson, who has become celebrated for his public art commissions.
Born in Denmark in 1967, Eliasson’s parents separated when he was four years old, and his father returned to Iceland where he became a landscape painter. In 1989 Eliasson attended the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen and, a year after graduating, secured his first solo show. In 1995 he founded the Studio Olafur Eliasson, an experimental laboratory in Berlin where a team of about 90 people from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from technicians to art historians, manufacture ideas rather than things.
Eliasson is an artist committed to pushing the boundaries of space using materials such as lights, mirrors and water. Viewers play a major part in his work. In 1998 he used uranin, a dye used to detect plumbing leaks, to colour a Berlin river fluorescent green. In 2008, he created four huge man-made waterfalls in New York harbour. His best known work is The Weather Project, commissioned for the Turbine Hall in Tate Modern in 2003. Using a semi-circle of hundreds of yellow lamps and enormous mirrors he created a dazzling sunset and a vast ceiling that reflected the audience and the surroundings. Designed to put visitors back in touch with the deep sense of awe ancestors must have felt as they watched the sun rise and set each day, it was described by the art critic Richard Dorment as having ‘a terrifying beauty’. In 2007 Eliasson was awarded the Joan Miró Prize.
When you save this search to your interests, Christie's will notify you by email when an upcoming sale includes items that match this interest.
You can save as many interests as you like, and you can edit, delete, or change your notification settings at any time.