Olafur Eliasson

Socially and environmentally responsible Danish-Icelandic artist and bringer of sunshine and waterfalls

It’s unlikely that the Icelandic artist will ever match the popular impact of his Weather Project at Tate Modern, visited by two million people in 2000, although this year’s retrospective at the same institution received solid reviews. Its final room was packed with research material on climate change: newspaper clippings and scientific articles, sketches and diagrams, all of which fuel the artist’s public-pleasing sculpture and installation, most of which stays on the right side of spectacle. In December, in London, Eliasson restaged a project in which he transported giant ice blocks from Greenland to Paris to melt during the 2015 UN Climate Summit; in September he was appointed Goodwill Ambassador to the UN Development Programme. That recognition is due in part to the success of Little Sun, a solar energy company he has run since 2012, but also for his use of contemporary art as a platform to raise awareness of the climate crisis. It’s a model many others have taken up.