5 Works by Olafur Eliasson and Where to See Them

Reykjaviks Harpa Concert Hall was partly designed by Ólafur Éliasson
Reykjavik's Harpa Concert Hall was partly designed by Ólafur Éliasson | © Brett JT / Alamy Stock Photo
Benjamin M. Smith

The Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson is a man of many talents, known worldwide for his art installation projects specializing in the manipulation of the basic elements. After establishing Studio Olafur Eliasson in Berlin in 1995, the artist quickly came to prominence for his tendency to engage visitors in his art. Read on to learn more about some of his most famous works.

1. 'Your rainbow panorama' in Aarhus, Denmark


Housed on the roof of the ARoS Art Museum in Aarhus, ‘Your rainbow panorama’ blurs the boundaries between an art and nature space. This 150-meter-wide circular walkway depicts all colors of the rainbow, for viewers to view Aarhus in a way they are not accustomed to. This is one of Eliasson’s most signature works, which uses varying degrees of light to complement its breathtaking view of this Danish city.

2. 'Your black horizon' at Lopud, Croatia

Art Gallery

Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Center
© Sarah_Ackerman/Flickr
‘Your black horizon’ was first unveiled on the island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni, Venice, in 2005, but now resides on the Croatian island of Lopud. It demonstrates the mastery of light, both natural and artificial. Visitors walk down several corridors of differing light sources, whereby the contrast of LED light and natural light separated by the well-placed studs of the wooden structure intensifies the experience of the space as a whole.

3. Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik

Concert Hall

Concert Hall Harpa in Reykjavik, Iceland
© Sven Otte / Alamy Stock Photo
Studio Olaur Eliasson was commissioned to create the façades of the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre in Revkajavík. Their three-dimensional, quasi-brick design is intended to engage viewers through shifts in appearance and color, solely based on the movement of the hall’s visitors. The material used for the façade – crystallized basalt – is native to Iceland, and was the perfect media with which create this appealing symmetrical layer cake.

4. The New York City Waterfalls on the East River, New York City


In a continuation of the artist’s previous work with water, the New York City Waterfalls was a temporary public installation in 2008 on the East River. The four waterfalls were between 30-40 meters in height, and made from a combination of scaffolding, pumps, and hoses to lift the water from its original source. This work highlights Eliasson’s passion in transforming everyday natural elements into exalted exhibits that change the viewer’s perspective of their original inhabited space.

5. 'The Weather Project' at the Tate Modern, London

Art Gallery, Bridge, Building, Museum

Tate Modern on South Bank houses an incredible collection of contemporary art
© Tate Photography
As one of Eliasson’s most famous works, ‘The Weather Project’ at the Tate Modern explored ideas of experience and mediation during its time in the Turbine Hall, from 2003-2004. Through the manipulation of monofrequency lights, Eliasson successfully recreated a blazon sun, whose singular effect on its location challenged visitors’ perspectives. A haze machine intensified the effect of the mock sun, creating a desert-like atmosphere right on the banks of the Thames.

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