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Olafur Eliasson's show at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art creates large,
wonderful scenes of beautiful, complex, subtle color. Most installations are the size
of a large museum room, with the entire space carrying original optical information.
Eliasson does all sorts of elegant magical things with light, space, time. There are hints
in the work of ideas explored by Donald Flavin, Robert Smithson, James Turrell,
and several architects. But Eliasson is entirely his own coherent unique magician.
Museum visitors are often active participants, or "engaged spectators" (as OE says),
in the scenes, gracefully installed by the artist and SFMOMA.
In 2003 Eliasson filled the huge Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern in London with
Weather project, an indoor spectacle of shifting fog, a pretend sun, and mirrors.
Two million people came to see and play in that installation.
Surely most 3D artworkers would say that you have to be there, that 2D images
(photographs, videos) are incomplete, flat, and completely different--sometimes
in an interesting way--than the actual experience of seeing and walking around inside
the real thing. The photographs in the catalog, Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson,
confirm the impossibility of adequate flatland representation of 3D installation
art and of the 4D walking-around-in-space-time experience (just as Richard Serra's
amazing MOMA show).
There is a thoughtful discussion by Olafur Eliasson and Robert Irwin reprinted in the catalog.
The SFMOMA show closes Febrary 24, 2008.
The show will also appear at MOMA and PS 1 Contemporary Art Center in New York from
April 13, 2008 to June 30, 2008.
-- Edward Tufte
Olafur Eliasson website
Olafur Eliasson's Take Your Time has reached MOMA and P.S. 1 in New York. An interesting review by Holland Cotter of The New York Times here.