Exhibition Press Release


Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson Catalogue

Exhibition dates: September 08, 2007 - February 24, 2008

Release date: September 10, 2007

To accompany the forthcoming traveling survey of Olafur Eliasson's work, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), in association with Thames & Hudson, New York and London, will produce a major catalogue entitled Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson. This definitive publication on the artist promises to make a lasting contribution to the art-historical field and offers an extensive visual record of Eliasson's career. The 276-page book investigates the complex lineage of Eliasson's projects with a series of major essays by leading art historians and critics Mieke Bal, Klaus Biesenbach and Roxana Marcoci, Daniel Birnbaum, Madeleine Grynsztejn, Pamela M. Lee, and Henry Urbach, as well as a conversation between Eliasson and artist Robert Irwin.

Edited by Grynsztejn, SFMOMA's Elise S. Haas Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture, the catalogue features approximately 233 reproductions. Its plates represent Eliasson's most significant artworks from 1991 to the present and underscore how the artist, over the last 15 years, has created an enormously inventive body of work—one that embraces site-specific installation, large-scale immersive environments, freestanding sculpture, and photography.

Grynsztejn's essay addresses the role of the museum as a site for cultural spectacle and considers the ways in which Eliasson's work both accommodates and productively undermines this trend. Art historian Lee explores the historical roots of his artistic output, with a particular focus on the influence of the Light and Space movement and its implications for the critical reception of Eliasson's work. A conversation between Eliasson and Irwin delves into subjects of mutual interest, including the dematerialization of the art object and the viewer as the coproducer of the artwork. Curator and critic Birnbaum contextualizes Eliasson's work amid the projects and literature associated with relational aesthetics, a term used to define a tendency in contemporary art that results in immersive environments contingent upon social interaction. A contribution by cultural critic Bal links Eliasson's art to notions of the sublime, Eden, and the baroque, explaining how his work renders experience political by staging empowering interactions between the viewer and the environment. Biesenbach and Marcoci consider the protocinematic aspects of Eliasson's practice, drawing comparisons to the New Vision experiments of El Lissitzky and László Moholy-Nagy as well as the work of James Turrell, Robert Smithson, and other artists of more recent decades. Finally, an essay by Urbach evaluates the ways in which Eliasson's recent practice utilizes the scale and strategies of architectural design, producing rich surfaces through the use of prismatic glass and other technologies of light and color.

The catalogue, which concludes with a thorough chronology of exhibitions and projects, a selected bibliography, and an index, is destined to become the authoritative text on Eliasson as well as a valuable resource on contemporary art. The book was designed by Jennifer Sonderby, head of SFMOMA's award-winning Department of Graphic Design, in close collaboration with the artist. The book will be available in a paper-over-boards format at the retail price of $50 (ISBN: 978-0-500-09340-5).

Eliasson was born in 1967 in Copenhagen, Denmark, and trained at Copenhagen's Royal Danish Academy of Art. Examples of his work reside in major worldwide collections, including those of SFMOMA; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Deste Foundation, Athens; and the Tate Modern, London. His recent exhibitions include solo shows at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; the Malmö Konsthall, Sweden; the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; and the Kunsthaus Zug, Switzerland. Eliasson, who represented Denmark at the 2003 Venice Biennale, oversees a laboratory/studio in Berlin and divides his time between Berlin and Copenhagen.

Take your time: Olafur Eliasson will be on view at SFMOMA from September 8, 2007, through February 24, 2008; it then will travel to the Museum of Modern Art, New York (April 20–June 30, 2008); and the Dallas Museum of Art (November 9, 2008–March 15, 2009); and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia (summer 2009).

Catalogue Contributors

Madeleine Grynsztejn is the Elise S. Haas Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture at SFMOMA. Her recent publications include The Art of Richard Tuttle (SFMOMA/DAP, 2005); Chuck Close: Self-Portraits 1967–2005 (SFMOMA/Walker Art Center/DAP, 2005); Supernova: Art of the 1990s from the Logan Collection (SFMOMA/DAP, 2003); and Olafur Eliasson (Phaidon, 2002). Formerly curator of contemporary art at the Carnegie Museum of Art and associate curator at the Art Institute of Chicago, Grynsztejn has written and lectured extensively on contemporary art.

Mieke Bal is professor of literary theory and a founding director of the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, Theory, and Interpretation at the University of Amsterdam. Her many publications include Louise Bourgeois' Spider: The Architecture of Art-Writing (Chicago, 2001); Quoting Caravaggio: Contemporary Art, Preposterous History (Chicago, 1999); and Double Exposures: The Subject of Cultural Analysis (Routledge, 1996), among others. Her work has proven central to the discipline of cultural criticism, and her anthology The Practice of Cultural Analysis: Exposing Interdisciplinary Interpretation (Stanford, 1999) has become a definitive book in the field.

Klaus Biesenbach is chief curator of the Media Department at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Recent projects include P.S.1's Greater New York exhibitions (2000, 2005), Video Acts (2002), and Disasters of War (2000). His exhibition Douglas Gordon: Timeline opened at MoMA in June 2006.

Daniel Birnbaum is director of the Portikus and the Städelschule Art Academy in Frankfurt, Germany. A contributing editor of Artforum, he writes regularly for publications such as Frieze and Parkett. Birnbaum has published numerous books on art and philosophy; his essays and interviews have appeared in recent books on Doug Aitken (Phaidon, 2001), James Turrell (Cantz, 2001), Olafur Eliasson (Phaidon, 2002), and Michael Joo (MIT, 2003).

Robert Irwin, an internationally renowned artist, studied at the Otis Art Institute, the Jepson Art Institute, and the Chinouard School of Art in Los Angeles. Since his first solo show in 1957, his work has been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide. By the 1960s, his desire to involve the viewer more fully in his art led to a series of installations involving the manipulation of space. Irwin's subsequent outdoor installations also have drawn attention to the perceptual experience of site and place. In 1997 his design for the Central Garden, the constantly evolving, 134,000-square-foot installation at the heart of the Getty Center's grounds, opened to the public in Los Angeles.

Pamela M. Lee is associate professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Stanford University. The author of Chronophobia: On Time in the Art of the 1960s (MIT, 2004) and Object to Be Destroyed: The Work of Gordon Matta-Clark (MIT, 1999), Lee has contributed essays to October, Assemblage, Word, and Image, and a variety of other publications.

Roxana Maroci is curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. She organized the retrospective Thomas Demand (MoMA, 2005) and Comic Abstraction: Image-Breaking, Image-Making (MoMA, 2007), as well as a number of MoMA Projects exhibitions, including shows dedicated to Olafur Eliasson, Lee Mingwei, and Mark Dion.

Henry Urbach is SFMOMA's Helen Hilton Raiser Curator of Architecture and Design. He has contributed essays to catalogues on the work of LOT-EK (DAP, 2003), Simon Ungers (Gili, 1998), and other architects, and has written for publications such as Assemblage, ANY, Metropolis, Artforum, and the New York Times Magazine. From 1997 to 2006 he owned and directed Henry Urbach Architecture, a New York gallery devoted to contemporary art and design.

Take your time: Olafur Eliasson is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Lead support is provided by Helen and Charles Schwab and the Mimi and Peter Haas Fund. Generous support is provided by the Bernard Osher Foundation, the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, and Collectors Forum. Additional support is provided by Patricia and William Wilson III, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the American-Scandinavian Foundation. Support for education programs has been provided by Helen Hilton Raiser in honor of Madeleine Grynsztejn. Media support is provided by Dwell magazine.

Media Contacts

  • Robyn Wise, 415.357.4172,
  • Libby Garrison, 415.357.4177,
  • Sandra Farish Sloan, 415.357.4174,

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Founded in 1935 as the first West Coast museum devoted to modern and contemporary art, SFMOMA is currently undergoing a major expansion project to open in 2016 that will significantly enhance gallery, education, and public spaces, enabling the museum to better showcase more of its expanded permanent collection. While the museum is temporarily closed for construction, from June 3, 2013 to early 2016, SFMOMA will be “on the go” with an extensive array of off-site programming across the Bay Area, including collaborative and traveling museum exhibitions, major outdoor projects and commissioned installations, and new education initiatives.

Visit our Web site at www.sfmoma.org or call 415.357.4000 for more information.

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