Elmgreen & Dragset

A challenge to rethink the world around us.

artists Elmgreen & Dragset standing at the door at smiling in front of their studio
two artists walking whilst holding life-size, photographic cardboard cutouts
artist's studio with the artist adjusting a life-size cutout figure and rows of shelves and storage in the background
7 images

Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset were born in the 1960s in Denmark and Norway, and have worked as an artist duo since 1995.

Projects

Millions have encountered their public commisions, which have taken place in iconic locations including London’s Trafalgar Square, New York’s Rockefeller Centre and Paris' Place Vendôme.

Awards

In addition to these high profile projects, the duo have received widespread critical acclaim - nominated for the Hugo Boss Prize in 2000, winners of the Preis der Nationalgalerie in Berlin in 2002, recipients of a special mention at 2009's Venice Biennale, winners of the BZ Culture Prize in 2020 and, most recently, awarded the 14th Robert Jacobsen Prize by the Würth Foundation in 2021.

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Practice overview

Since 1995, Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset have created large-scale sculptures, installations and performances that douse new twists on modernist design in pointed social commentary. All of their work, whether a thirty-foot defunct swimming pool or a fictional set of a collector’s home, transforms familiar settings into humorous, uncanny scenarios. Public space is highly important. The conversations that the sculptures provoke within the public are just as important as the art-objects themselves. In fact, Elmgreen & Dragset see their work as a mode of civic duty, aiming to inspire independent thought in their viewers. They do not, however, ask you to agree with them, but instead pose questions that undo the absoluteness of societal norms to reveal - beyond what we are conditioned to believe - what we actually think.

Elmgreen & Dragset hold up an absurdist mirror to the art world. Their 2008 solo show, Too Late, was based on a real-life anecdote: at Art Basel the pair were denied entry to their own after party because it was so exclusive. In the exhibition, the gallery was transformed into a nightclub called ‘The Mirror.’ Before the opening, the artists’ hosted a private party. Instead of tidying it’s aftermath, the debris was left out so that, when the show opened, curators, collectors and gallerists were forced to tiptoe around discarded litter. Exemplary of the duos oeuvre, the piece uses brash humour as a mode of critique, questioning the exclusiveness not only of the art world, but consumerism and materialism at large.

“Making art is an optimistic act in itself. If we didn’t care, we would just do nothing.”Elmgreen & Dragset