Olafur Eliasson

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

You can get critical flak for making art that’s spectacular, but Eliasson is undeterred. Of the many shows of work by the artist in the past year, among them Green light, a much-talked-about refugee project at TBA21 in Vienna, and an exhibition at the Winter Palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy, the artist’s big project for 2016 was his takeover of the Château de Versailles. The centrepiece, among the many works the artist installed in the seventeenth-century palace and its gardens, was a towering waterfall in the latter that seemed to gush from the heavens down into one of the ornamental ponds. There’s a serious point to his crowd-pleasing, however: Eliasson, whether through his artworks or his socially conscious projects, is interested in inspiring political and social change through the work. The bigger the audience, the bigger the effect.