Olafur Eliasson

Brooklyn Rail | The New Social Environment #160: Olafur Eliasson with Dr. Julie Reiss and Dr. Douglas Dreishpoon
October 27, 2020

Artist Olafur Eliasson will be in conversation with Rail editor Dr. Julie Reiss and curator Dr. Douglas Dreishpoon. We’ll conclude with a poetry reading from Valérie Déus.


Eliasson was born in 1967. He grew up in Iceland and Denmark and studied from 1989 to 1995 at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. In 1995, he moved to Berlin and founded Studio Olafur Eliasson, which today comprises a large team of craftsmen, architects, archivists, researchers, administrators, cooks, programmers, art historians, and specialized technicians.


Olafur Eliasson’s art is driven by his interests in perception, movement, embodied experience, and feelings of self. He strives to make the concerns of art relevant to society at large. Art, for him, is a crucial means for turning thinking into doing in the world. Eliasson’s works span sculpture, painting, photography, film, and installation. Not limited to the confines of the museum and gallery, his practice engages the broader public sphere through architectural projects, interventions in civic space, arts education, policy-making, and issues of sustainability and climate change.


In 2019 Eliasson was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for renewable energy and climate action by the United Nations Development Programme. Eliasson lives and works in Copenhagen and Berlin.


Dr. Julie Reiss is an art historian who directs a Master’s program at Christie’s Education. Julie has presented papers and chaired panels on issues related to art and climate change at conferences including the College Art Association and the Conference for the Council for European Studies. She is the author of From Margin to Center: The Spaces of Installation Art (1999) and the editor of Art, Theory and Practice in the Anthropocene (2018).

Dr. Douglas Dreishpoon, Chief Curator Emeritus at the Albright-Knox, is currently Director of the Catalogue Raisonné project at the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation in New York City. His 26 years of experience in museums include such roles as Curator of Collections at the Weatherspoon Art Museum at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (1995–1998) and Curator of Contemporary Art at the Tampa Museum of Art in Florida (1991–1995).


His essays, interviews, and reviews have been published in numerous catalogues, magazines, and journals, including Art in America, Art Journal, ARTnews, and Sculpture. Recent publications include The Long Curve: 150 Years of Visionary Collecting at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Skira, 2011); Guillermo Kuitca: Everything, Paintings and Works on Paper, 1980–2008 (Scala, 2009); ROBERT MANGOLD: Beyond the Line | Paintings and Project 2000–2008 (Abrams, 2009); Ken Price: Slow and Steady Wins the Race, Works on Paper, 1962–2010 (The Drawing Center, 2013); Giving Up One’s Mark: Helen Frankenthaler in the 1960s and 1970s (2014); Imperfections by Chance: Paul Feeley Retrospective, 1954–1965 (2015); and Nothing and Everything: Seven Artists, 1947–1962 (Hauser & Wirth, 2017).

A former board member of the American Section of the International Association of Art Critics, Dreishpoon holds a Bachelor of Arts from Skidmore College, a master’s degree from Tufts University, and a PhD from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.