Airport, please! to Sonoma Valley’s Donum Estates where wine makes a delicious mix with Olaf Eliasson’s sculpture
Founded in 2011, The Donum Collection is one of the world’s largest accessible private sculpture collections. More than 50 monumental works, including open-air sculptures, are placed on The Donum Estate, with over a third being site-specific commissions. Throughout our 200-acre estate, each piece plays with scale, nature, and imagination. This evolving collection brings together a global community of artists, including works from leading practitioners from 18 nations, across six continents. Donum brings to life a delicate balance between wine, land and art that has made it an international destination.
‘Vertical Panorama Pavilion’, designed by Studio Other Spaces is now complete at the Donum Estate in Northern California.
Taking inspiration from the history of circular calendars, the wine-tasting pavilion has an elevated conical canopy lined with recycled glass panels. Stacked up vertically above 12 columns that emulate the months in a year, the colourful hues of the glass panels depict the weather conditions essential for the creation of Donum’s wine – solar radiance, wind intensity, temperature, and humidity. (Photo: Adam Potts)
For Eliasson and Behmann, the pavilion is in fact for all senses as well as discoveries. “Look into your glass when you are having a glass of Pinot Noir under the pavilion,” says Eliasson. “You will see an incredible reflection of colors and shapes in moving inside.”
OLAFUR ELIASSON COMMISSION AT THE DONUM ESTATE
Wind, earth, sun, and microbes… The natural ingredients to transform grapes into wine have remained unchanged for millennia, although, over the years, mass production has altered wine-making’s inherently organic process. Upon an invitation from Sonoma’s Donum Estate to build a wine-tasting pavilion, Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson and his German architect partner Sebastian Behmann in their firm,Studio other Spaces, (SOS), realized they could reverse our bacchanal habits back to its roots.
“We started with an attempt to ‘un-numb’ our tastes and free the wine experience from everyday corporate side elements,” Eliasson said, standing underneath SOS’s 22 feet high color-busting canopy, Vertical Panorama Pavilion. Perched close to the 200 acres estate’s David Thulstrup–designed main tasting center, the Donum Home, the oculus is built with 12 intertwined stainless steel columns and 832 colored recycled glass panels.
Throughout the past two and a half decades, Olafur Eliasson’s sculptures, installations, paintings, photography, films, and public projects have served as tools for exploring the cognitive and cultural conditions that inform our perception. Ranging from immersive environments of color, light, and movement to installations that recontextualize natural phenomena, his work defies the notion of art as an autonomous object and instead positions itself as part of an exchange with the actively engaged visitor and their individualized experience. Described by the artist as “devices for the experience of reality,” his works and projects prompt a greater sense of awareness about the way we engage with and interpret the world. 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.
As fires rage in California and the world turns upside down on its axis, as we are threatened with Covid-19 and monkeypox, illness and solitary angst when all our customary pastimes are taken away, Olafur Eliasson’s immerse works celebrate the environment and our perceptions of it.
Born in Copenhagen in 1967, Eliasson grew up in both Iceland and Denmark, where he studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Art (1989–1995). Upon graduating, he relocated to Berlin, where he established his studio in 1995. Today it is comprised of craftsmen, architects, archivists, researchers, administrators, cooks, programmers, geometers, and art historians. From 2009 to 2014, as a professor at the Berlin University of the Arts, Eliasson led the Institut für Raumexperimente (Institute for Spatial Experiments), a five-year experimental program in arts education located in the same building as his studio. Eliasson currently lives and works in Copenhagen and Berlin.
Since the mid-1990s, the artist’s work has been at the center of numerous exhibitions and projects around the world. In 2003, Eliasson represented Denmark at the 50th Venice Biennale with The blind pavilion and, later that year, he opened the celebrated work The weather project at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.
The artist’s first retrospective, Take your time: Olafur Eliasson, opened at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2007 before traveling to the Museum of Modern Art and PS1 in New York; The Dallas Museum of Art; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, through 2010. His second retrospective, In real life opened at the Tate Modern, London in 2019 before traveling to the Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain in 2020.
Other significant solo exhibitions include Sometimes the river is the bridge, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2020); Symbiotic seeing, Kunsthaus Zurich (2020); Y/our future is now, The Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art (2019); Reality Projector at Marciano Foundation in Los Angeles, CA (2018); The unspeakable openness of things, Red Brick Art Museum, Beijing, China (2018); Olafur Eliasson WASSERfarben, Graphische Sammlung – Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany (2018); Olafur Eliasson: Multiple shadow house, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Montreal, Canada (2017); Olafur Eliasson: Nothingness is not nothing at all, Long Museum, Shanghai, China (2016); Olafur Eliasson: Verklighetsmaskiner, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (2016); Olafur Eliasson: BAROQUE BAROQUE, The Winter Palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy, Vienna, Austria (2016); Olafur Eliasson: Riverbed, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark (2014); Olafur Eliasson: Contact, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, France (2014); Olafur Eliasson: Your trust, Kunsthalle Mannheim, Germany (2014); Olafur Eliasson: Your emotional future, PinchukArtCentre, Kiev, Ukraine (2011); Olafur Eliasson: Seu corpo da obra, 17th International Contemporary Art Festival SESC_Videobrasil, São Paulo, Brazil; Innen Stadt Außen at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin (2010); Your chance encounter at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan (2009–2010); The New York City Waterfalls, a major public art project for the city of New York (2008); Notion motion at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam (2005); Colour memory and other informal shadows at Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst in Oslo (2004); Chaque matin je me sens différent, chaque soir je me sens le même at Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in France (2002); Your only real thing is time at The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston (2001); and The curious garden at Kunsthalle Basel (1997), among many others.
Eliasson’s work is represented in many prestigious collections worldwide, including those of the Museum of Modern Art in New York; Tate Collection, London; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh; The Art Institute of Chicago; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York; Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C.; Leeum Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark; MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Dallas Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston,
The artist has been granted numerous awards over the years, including the Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT (2014), the Wolf Prize in Painting and Sculpture (2014), the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award (2013) (with Henning Larsen Architects and Batterid), the Joan Miró Prize (2007), and the 3rd Benesse Prize (1999).
ELISASSON’s VR EXPERIENCE: YOUR VIEW MATTER
The artist Olafur Eliasson has been working in virtual and augmented reality for six years, but his latest piece, Your view matter, is far more ambitious artistically and technically than any VR work he has shown before. It also exists as an NFT, commissioned by one of the pioneers in crypto art, MetaKovan (aka Vignesh Sundaresan), who caused a global stir in April 2021 when he paid $69.3m (with fees) at a Christie’s auction for Beeple’s NFT Everyday: The First 5000 Days (2021).
The NFT of Your view matter is a one-off, non-editioned, token created for MetaKovan —its ownership and provenance captured on a permanent ledger on the blockchain —and has been minted on Polkadot, a platform regarded as having the lowest total electricity consumption and total carbon emissions-per-year of all crypto platforms.
Being conscious of the environmental cost of minting NFTs is, Eliasson says, of enormous importance, and something that he discussed with MetaKovan. “It is a relatively new field, [and] there has been a quite strong increase in that consciousness … The truth is the whole blockchain universe is actually quite progressive. It is remarkably similar to the rest of our world. A lot of talk and not as much doing. But a group of doers, too.”
AR and VR versions of the piece will be available free to view on the Acute Art app and via a link for viewing on a computer or in a VR headset . The commission came to Eliasson through Acute Art, one of the cutting-edge players in presenting art in all forms of extended reality. Both AR and VR versions “are really made to work with the largest possible audience,” Eliasson said. “Acute is very conscious of that. That was also an aim for both the client and for myself.”
For Eliasson, the NFT commission worked much as it would have with a more traditional format: “It was very much centred [on] making a great work of art.” And, on the contract implicit in the NFT format, he says: “Normally when you buy an artwork off me, you get a paper that this artwork is authentic artwork by me. There is a picture of the artwork, and a little bit of technical information. Now that is an NFT.”
For Acute Art, the piece is part of a move into the NFT space. Their artists had “perhaps been a bit hesitant” to date, according to Acute’s artistic director, Daniel Birnbaum. but working on Your view matter with Eliasson represented a chance to take the NFT into a rich, more technically ambitious space. The company’s chief technical officer, Rodrigo Marques, has created some new VR functionality specifically for the piece, according to Jacob de Geer, chief executive of Acute Art.
Eliasson was featured on Acute Art early in the Covid-19 pandemic, withWunderkammer, a charming collection of AR pieces, including a puffin, a rain cloud, and a haloed sun, well-calibrated to delight the spirits of users mired in lockdown. Your view matter exists on a higher, more primal, plane, one aligned with Eliasson’s experimental work, much of it carried out in his Berlin studio, on movement and human interconnectedness.
In Your view matter, the user moves between linked geometric spaces based on the Platonic solids, the tetrahedron, octahedron, icosahedron, dodecahedron, and cube, before concluding in a sphere. The Platonic solids—each made up of regular, identical shapes, joined in the same way at every apex—are, says, Eliasson, “mathematical small miracles. They are pre-Renaissance. They [do not subscribe] to the sense of perspective like modern architecture. They suggest ‘let’s see what dimensions are’.”
Eliasson was inspired to move into VR, he says, “from my interest in dance and movement”, and in cognition and motor skills. He has no patience with VR that suffers from what the calls the “dolphin effect”, typified by a user in VR who passively luxuriates in observing a dolphin swim around them in a “blue lagoon”. The format only comes alive for Eliasson when it is triggered by the user’s movement and visual interconnection with the artwork. In Your view matter, that “disturbance”, the distortion of the moiré effect, is animated when the user moves their head and eyes, overlaying the close-hatched patterns in his surfaces—some brilliantly coloured, some in black and white—over the pixels of a computer or phone screen, creating a scintillating, ambiguous, random, effect. The user is the “you” who “matters” in the piece.