Elmgreen & Dragset

Michael Elmgreen (born 1961; Copenhagen, Denmark) and Ingar Dragset (born 1969; Trondheim, Norway) have worked together as an artist duo since 1995. Their work explores the relationship between art, architecture and design.

Elmgreen & Dragset live and work in Berlin. They are known for art work that has wit and subversive humour, and also addresses serious social and cultural concerns.[1]

Life and work

Powerless Structures Fig. 101, 2011, at London's Trafalgar Square.

The duo met in Copenhagen in 1994, when Michael Elmgreen, who was born in the city in 1961, was writing and performing poetry, and Ingar Dragset, a Norwegian born in 1969, was studying theater.[2] They started collaborating in 1995 and moved to Berlin in 1997. In 2006, they bought a large 1000m2 former water-pumping station dating to 1924 in Berlin’s Neukölln borough from the city[2] and converted it into a studio.[3] In 2008, Elmgreen moved to London, and in 2015, he moved back to Berlin.[4]

Since 1997, the artists have presented a great number of architectural and sculptural installations in an ongoing series of works entitled 'Powerless Structures'[5] in which they transformed the conventions of the 'white cube' gallery space, creating galleries suspended from the ceiling, sunk into the ground or turned upside down.[6] For the Istanbul Biennial in 2001, they constructed a full-scale model of a typical Modernist Kunsthalle descending into the ground while located outdoor among ancient ruins. Their work has also been shown in the Berlin, Istanbul, Liverpool, Moscow, São Paulo, Singapore, Gwangju Biennials.

Further exhibitions include transforming the Bohen Foundation in New York into a 13th Street Subway Station in 2004; their best-known project Prada Marfa, a Prada boutique inaugurated in 2005 and sited in the middle of the Texan desert; and their exhibition The Welfare Show in 2005-2006 at Serpentine Gallery, London / The Power Plant, Toronto / Bergen Kunsthall, Norway / BAWAG Foundation, Vienna, which was critically acclaimed.[1][7][8][9]

For the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009 they curated the exhibition The Collectors in the neighboring Danish and Nordic Pavilions (which include Norway, Sweden, and Denmark), an unprecedented merging of two international exhibition venues. For their show, they invited fellow artists Maurizio Cattelan, Tom of Finland, Han & Him, Laura Horelli, William E. Jones, Terence Koh, Klara Lidén, Jonathan Monk, Nico Muhly, Norway Says, Nina Saunders, and Wolfgang Tillmans, among others.

In 2011, their sculpture Powerless Structures, Fig. 101 was chosen as the winner of the Fourth Plinth Commission to be displayed on the fourth plinth of London's Trafalgar Square.[10] Their bronze sculpture of a boy astride a rocking horse questions the tradition for war monuments to celebrate either victory or defeat.[11]

In 2013 they curated an extensive public art program in Munich entitled “A Space Called Public/Hoffentlich Öffentlich”[12] and transformed the former textile galleries of the Victoria and Albert Museum into the grand family home of fictional architect Norman Swann.[13] Their exhibition series “Biography” took place in 2014–2105 at the Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo and the SMK–National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen. In 2015 their exhibition “Aéroport Mille Plateaux” turned the PLATEAU Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul into an airport inspired by the ideas of philosopher Gilles Deleuze.[14]

Van Gogh's Ear, 2016, in New York City's Rockefeller Center

For their solo exhibition “The Well Fair” in 2016, the duo transformed the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing into a fictional art fair.[15] Also in 2016, the artists installed Van Gogh’s Ear at Rockefeller Center in New York; the 9-meter (30-foot) high, empty swimming pool stands upright on its shortest side, supported by a visible construction on its backside.[16]

Permanent installations

In 2003, Elmgreen & Dragset won the German Government's competition for a memorial in Tiergarten park in Berlin, in memory of the gay victims of the Nazi regime, which was unveiled in May 2008.[17][18]

Performative works

In 2007, Elmgreen & Dragset developed Drama Queens, a theatre play about Twentieth Century art history with six remote-controlled versions of iconic sculptures, for Skulptur Projekte Münster.[19] During the 2008 Frieze Art Fair, they staged Drama Queens, this time enlivened by the voices of leading stage stars such as Kevin Spacey, at The Old Vic in London.[20]


Elmgreen & Dragset were nominated for the Hugo Boss Prize in 2000, and in 2002 they won the Preis der Nationalgalerie at the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin. The artists were awarded the Arken Art Prize in 2006.[21] In 2009, Elmgreen & Dragset were awarded Special Mention at the Venice Biennale for The Collectors, their highly elaborate exhibition for the Danish and Nordic Pavilions. For the same exhibition, also in 2009, they were awarded the Kritikerlaget/Norwegian Critics’ Association Kunstkritikerprisen/Art Critics’ Prize.[22]

In 2012 they won an Eckersberg Medal[23] and were also awarded the Carl Nielsen og Anne Marie Carl-Nielsens Legat/Carl Nielsen and Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen Grant in conjunction with their exhibition at Den Frie in Copenhagen.[24]

In 2015 they were awarded an honorary doctorate at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU): "https://www.ntnu.edu/phd/honorary-doctors".[25]

Solo Exhibitions (selected)









Death of a Collector, 2009. Pictured at the 53rd Venice Biennale.
Powerless Structures, Fig. 11, 1997 at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark.













Group Exhibitions (selected)









Elmgreen & Dragset's work is in the permanent collection of several museums in Europe, such as the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebaek; the Moderna Museet in Stockholm; the Malmö Konsthall; the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, and the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea in Santiago de Compostela.[36] Other public collections include Anyang Foundation for Culture & Arts; Arken Museum of Art, Ishøj; Bergen Kunstmuseum; Kunsthalle Bremen; Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, WI; Dokk1, Aarhus; Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Espoo; Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul; Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich; MUMOK (Museum Moderner Kunst), Vienna; MUSAC (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León), León; Museion, Bolzano; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Nasjonalmuseet Oslo; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV; Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich; Sculpture International Rotterdam; Staatliche Kunstsammlung Dresden - Skulpturensammlung; Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen.[37]





  1. 1 2 "Last Chance: Elmgreen and Dragset at Victoria Miro, London". The Saatchi Gallery. 7 November 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  2. 1 2 Daniel Kunitz (November 22, 2012), Art+Auction.
  3. Wenin, Samila, "Art through irony", in The Bangkok Post, 15 September 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  4. Reyburn, Scott (9 October 2015). "Once Subversive, Frieze Opens in a Changing London". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  5. Elmgreen/Dragset, 20 October 2001 - 24 November 2001 Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York.
  6. Untitled: Elmgreen & Dragset, 12 May - 4 July 2004 Tate, London.
  7. 1 2 Sayej, Nadja (1 July 2006). "Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset: The Welfare Show.". Parachute: Contemporary Art Magazine. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  8. Field, Frank (1 February 2006). "Another view: Frank Field MP on The Welfare Show". The Guardian. London: Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  9. Campbell-Johnston, Rachel (24 January 2006). "We were only being boring". The Times. London: News International Limited. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  10. "Trafalgar Square Fourth Plinth art choices revealed". BBC News. 14 January 2011.
  11. Fourth Plinth: the work of Elmgreen & Dragset The Telegraph.
  12. "City of Munich: A Space Called Public". e-flux. 6 June 2013.
  13. "Press Release: Tomorrow—Elmgreen & Dragset at the V&A" (PDF).
  14. Shaw, Catherine (18 August 2015). "Transitional space: Elmgreen & Dragset create airport for Seoul's Plateau". Wallpaper*. Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  15. Harris, Gareth (20 January 2016). "Elmgreen & Dragset create a fictional art fair in Beijing". The Art Newspaper. Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  16. Elmgreen & Dragset: Van Gogh's Ear, April 13 – June 3, 2016 Rockefeller Center, New York.
  17. Connolly, Kate (28 May 2008). "Germany remembers gay victims of the Nazis". The Guardian. London: Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  18. "Germany unveils memorial to gay victims of Holocaust". The New York Times. 27 May 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  19. Elmgreen & Dragset: Silent wishes and broken dreams..., June 01 - July 31, 2011 Goetz Collection, Munich.
  20. Archer, Michael (22 August 2008). "The Old Vic - letting the art do the talking". The Guardian. London: Guardian News and Media Limited.
  21. "Arken Art Prize: 2006". Arken Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  22. "Kritikersalong ved utdelingen av Kunstkritikerprisen 2009 til Elmgreen og Dragset". Kritikerlaget / Norwegian Critics’ Association. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  23. "Tildelinger af medaljer". Akademiraadet. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
  24. "Carl Nielsens and Anne Marie Carl-Nielsens Grant 2012". Den Frie. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  25. Furberg, Kristoffer. "Kunstnerduo utnevnt til æresdoktorer" (in Norwegian). Universitetsavisa. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  26. "Alberta Ferretti A Side Effects Un Abito Per Una Statua Di Elmgreen & Dragset...". Sfilate (in Italian). 22 January 2008. Retrieved 26 December 2009.
  27. "Malmö Konsthall, Elmgreen & Dragset, This is the First Day of My Life". Malmö Konsthall Website. 3 March 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  28. Taka Ishii Gallery (Apr 22 – May 20, 2006). "Elmgreen & Dragset: The Incidental Self". Taka Ishii Gallery. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  29. Graczyk, Michael (20 February 2006). "Desert, cows and designer shoes; The handbags and pumps are part of the landscape of 'Prada Marfa,' an art piece that's turning heads in a West Texas town". Los Angeles Times. p. E18. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  30. Mendelsohn, Adam E. (10 August 2005). "Stealing the Show". Artforum. Artforum International Magazine. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  31. Allen, Jennifer, "Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, Klosterfelde (Linienstrasse)" in Artforum, October 2005, pp. 286-287.
  32. Brown, Jonathan (12 May 2004). "Artists hope to ruffle feathers with model of dying sparrow". The Independent. Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  33. Leitch, Luke (11 May 2004). "Watch the birdie; Twitching sparrow is a state of the art model at Tate Modern". The Evening Standard. Associated Newspapers Limited. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  34. McBreen, Ellen, "Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset at Emmanuel Perrotin" in Art in America, 2003, pp. 155-156. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  35. Bang Larsen, Lars (6 June 2000). "Whiteout". frieze magazine. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  36. Elmgreen & Dragset: Short Cut, May 7 – June 4, 2003 Nicola Trussardi Foundation, Milan.
  37. Elmgreen & Dragset artist page: biography. Galerie Perrotin website. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
  38. Nick Compton (September 25, 2012) Elmgreen & Dragset at the Louis Vuitton New Bond Street Maison, London Wallpaper.

Further reading

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