Olafur Thordarson


Olafur Thordarson

Ólafur Þórðarson (b. 1963, Reykjavík) works out of New York and Iceland.
Works with a range of petrochemical and natural materials to create a diverse body of sculptural works that cross-over between art and design. Some are urban, some architecture, other industrial design while his sculptures float in rivers, hang from the ceilings or pose questions through engaging with domestic environments. Lately, he has been working on videos and environmental sound compositions. Recently his ongoing sculptural work has entered video, the focus of his exhibition in Seyðisfjörður.
Ólafur had 8 solo exhibitions and took part in over 77 exhibitions in 19 different countries. His works are in the permanent collections of museums like Indianapolis Museum of Art, National Museum of Art in Oslo, Norway and Kunst og Industrimuseet in Copenhagen, Denmark. His works have also been shown at The Milwaukee Art Museum, Palazzo Triennale in Italy, and the Röhss Museum in Sweden.
His design and art have been widely published and two books are solely dedicated to his works (2001 and 2007). Other books include the International Design Yearbook (2000) and Scandinavian Design Beyond The Myth. Well over a hundred large and small on-print articles are on Olafur's art and design. Other exposure is WABCNews, WNYC, Icelandic State Radio and The Icelandic State Television.
He has taught advanced studios at RISD and has been a visiting critic in 8 Universities in the U.S. and Canada, including Columbia, Parsons and Pratt. He graduated with a Master of Architecture degree from Columbia University in 1990, where he studied directly under Steven Holl.
He has collaborated with other artists, including with Italian designer Gaetano Pesce and Icelandic musician Skúli Sverrisson. American performance artist Laurie Anderson selected Olafur's work to be featured in the New York SCOPE Art Fair.



My world is always a kind of a painting with separate individual projects that float around. Many of the works I make appears in my dreams or during my travels. I am also interested in how we can travel without moving, dreams and that engagement is really a steady developing or growing of one's work.

My art is to generate a vision, and how this can evolve into physical works that restructure a particular space or place.

The work often crosses into the reality of design, with objects, architecture and urban design. Of these I make detailed drawings, build mock-ups, prototypes or limited runs that maintain a hands-on experience of a dreamer and maker of things.

Some of my works float in rivers, are ceiling-engaged or emanate sounds, poetry and/or project light in various ways. I layer, suspend and float my constructions, paint, weave furring strips and wire or cast using a variety of materials.

My work often interweaves petrochemicals with natural materials or surroundings. Each of my pieces often are self contained, almost individuals.


b. 1963, Reykjavik, Iceland
Lives and works in Brooklyn, New York

  • 1990Columbia University in the City of New York, MS
  • 1986University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, BS
  • 2015Sculpture-films and other works, SÍM Gallery, Reykjavík, Iceland
  • 2009Hagræðingar, Skaftfell Art Center, Iceland
  • 2007Skrýmslin, Reykjavik City Hall, Iceland
  • 2005In the belly of an architect, Galleri Nordlys, Copenhagen
  • 2002Í mynd, Iceland Design Museum, Iceland
  • 2001Olafur Thordarson, John Elder Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2013Design Museum 140 years, Parallel Histories, DesignMuseo, Helsinki, Finland
  • 2013Nordic Cool, Kennedy Center, Washington, WV
  • 2011European Design Since 1985 , Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI
  • 2009European Design Since 1985, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN
  • 2007Scandinavian Design Beyond the Myth, Fundacion Pedro Barrié de la Maza
  • 2005Scandinavian Design Beyond the Myth, The Röhsska Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 2004Scope Committee for Emerging Artists, Scope Art Fair, New York, NY
  • 2004Scandinavian Design Beyond the Myth, Palazzo Triennale, Milan, Italy
  • 2003Faculty Biennial, The RISD Museum, Providence, RI
  • 2003UTOPIA and REALITY, Kunst og Industrimuseet, København, Denmark
  • 2000Blasted Landscapes, Hic et Nunc, Rome, Italy
  • 1999Celebrate NY Design!, Municipal Arts Society, New York, NY
  • 2008Labyrith Sculpture finalist, Alcoa, Iceland
  • 2006Floating Sculpture commission, LV Iceland
  • 1996Grafarholt urban design honorable mention, Iceland architecture association
  • 2009Skaftfell Art Residency, Seyðisfjörður, Iceland
183 Lorraine
Studio 3051
Brooklyn, NY 11231