The transparent simplicity and experiential nature of his work has built Olafur Eliasson's reputation as one of the world's most accessible creators of contemporary art.

Why you should listen

Denmark-born Icelander Olafur Eliasson has taken the art world by storm -- and the meteorological dimensions of that statement are appropriate. His immensely popular The Weather Project, at London's Tate Museum, immersed spectators in an artificial mirrored environment with its own looming sun (and its own analog of London fog), and attracted 2 million visitors in the process. In the summer of 2008, his four massive waterfalls spectacularly punctuated key sites in New York's harbor -- including one pouring from beneath the Brooklyn Bridge.

Eliasson's works emphasize tricks of light, refraction and scale, and tend to involve each viewer in his or her own unique experience, as in Beauty, which, by passing light through a wall of fine mist, produces a different rainbow when viewed from different points in the gallery. And his works engage passers-by in urban environments -- Eye See You,  a project for Louis Vuitton (and meant to publicize 121 Ethiopia, an African nonprofit  Eliasson co-founded with his wife), grabs viewers in the street with a beam of light shot from the window by an eye-shaped lamp.

What others say

“Many of his best-known works explore architecture and the mechanics of perception, almost as if the fantastical imaginings of Buckminster Fuller were reinterpreted by a cognitive scientist.” — Michael Joseph Gross, New York magazine

Olafur Eliasson’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Olafur Eliasson

The week in comments

July 18, 2009

This week’s theme for comments all over the Internet is experience. There are personal accounts from those who’ve witnessed Olafur Eliasson’s work (presented in his talk on playing with space and light) and recollections of good times at TED@Palm Springs (now upgraded to TEDActive!) or testimonials from volunteers of our Open Translation Project. On Olafur […]

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Playing with space and light: Olafur Eliasson on

July 14, 2009

In the spectacular large-scale projects he’s famous for (such as “Waterfalls” in New York harbor), Olafur Eliasson creates art from a palette of space, distance, color and light. This idea-packed talk begins with an experiment in the nature of perception. (Recorded at TED2009, February 2009 in Long Beach, CA. Duration: 09:37) Twitter URL: Watch […]

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