The Golden State Warriors and Chase Center, along with Studio Olafur Eliasson, announce the unveiling of Seeing spheres, Olafur Eliasson’s largest public artwork in the United Sates, at Chase Center and Thrive City. On September 3 at 9:00 a.m., Eliasson, alongside Warriors President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Welts and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Chief Curator Janet Bishop, will celebrate Chase Center’s signature work of public art with a panel discussion and official unveiling outside the East Entrance.
“Seeing spheres is a public space that contains you and contains multitudes,” said Eliasson. “We often think of public space as empty, negative space in the city, viewed from a car or crossed on the way to somewhere else. Seeing spheres offers a place to pause, where you see yourself from the outside, as a participant in society.”
Seeing spheres, 2019, consists of five (5) fifteen-and-a-half-feet-tall polished hydroformed steel spheres that stand in a circle around a central space. Each sphere supports a flat, circular mirrored face, framed by a ring of LED lights, which is oriented inward to reflect the mirrored faces of the surrounding spheres. Together they produce a surprising environment of multilayered, reflected spaces in which the same people and settings appear again and again, visible from various unexpected angles. Tunnel-like sets of nested reflections open up in the mirrors, repeating countless times and disappearing into the distance. Situated on Chase Center’s 25,000 square foot triangular plaza in front of the East Entrance to the arena, this striking new artwork establishes a prominent public setting in Thrive City for visitors to meet and interact.
“Eliasson’s global reputation for innovation and creativity is now on full display in San Francisco,” said Welts. “Seeing spheres will be an instant must-see for Bay Area residents and a magnet for visitors from around the world.”
Eliasson frequently uses mirrors to expand spaces and create a subtle and playful sense of spatial confusion that stimulates awareness of our bodies and perception. Seeing spheres enables viewers to see themselves from the outside, as co-participants in the shared world that appears within the layers of virtual space conjured by the cluster of giant mirrors. The artwork heightens visitors’ awareness of themselves and their surroundings, exemplifying art’s potential to, in Eliasson’s words, “train our capacities for perceiving and interpreting the world.”
“Working with a multi-million-dollar budget and a client with a vision of building community, I knew that Olafur was the perfect artist for the new home of the Warriors and was thrilled when the owners selected him,” notes Dorka Keehn, project public art consultant. “The Warriors and Chase Center have gifted San Francisco with an exceptional work of art by a world-renowned artist, who has a strong connection to San Francisco. Seeing spheres is a destination piece, a work that reflects the soul of the new neighborhood, and the ideal example of San Francisco’s “1%-for-art program” enhancing and enlivening our city in tandem with our urban growth.”
Olafur Eliasson’s art is driven by his interests in perception, movement, embodied experience, and feelings of self. He strives to make the concerns of art relevant to society at large and has become internationally renowned for the social and experiential impact of his artwork. Art, for him, is a crucial means for turning thinking into doing in the world. Since the mid-1990s, Eliasson has realized numerous major exhibitions and projects around the world with works spanning sculpture, painting, photography, film, and installation. In 2007, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art hosted Eliasson’s first US-based career retrospective, Take your time. Most recently, Olafur Eliasson: In real life opened at the Tate Modern, exhibiting three decades of work by Eliasson. Not limited to the confines of the museum and gallery, his practice engages the broader public sphere through architectural projects, interventions in civic space, arts education, policy-making, and issues of sustainability and climate change.
In addition to ‘Seeing spheres’, Sports & The Arts commissioned 33 artists to be featured inside Chase Center. Separately, Alexander Calder’s mobile Untitled and Isamu Noguchi’s Play Sculpture, previously on display at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), will be loaned to Chase Center and Thrive City for its new art program. SFMOMA has also commissioned, on behalf of the Warriors, Oakland painter David Huffman and San Francisco artists Hughen/Starkweather to create new artworks for the arena. Naming rights partner Chase will also provide artwork from their
JPMorgan Chase Art Collection, which features more than 30,000 artworks located in 250 offices worldwide, to be included in the JP Morgan Club and Chase Club inside the arena. The Warriors plan to continue to work with local community organizations to highlight their artistic efforts, through a collaboration with archive experts Heritage Werks, to showcase the history of the Warriors and entertainment in the Bay Area.
About Chase Center & Thrive City
Chase Center, an 18,064-seat sports and entertainment arena set to open in September of 2019, will anchor Thrive City, the multipurpose, privately financed complex in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood consisting of 3.2 acres of publicly accessible plazas and open space that are part of a larger mixed-use development including two office buildings and dozens of unique restaurant and retail locations. Easily accessible by foot, bicycle or mass transit, Chase Center will play host to games featuring the six-time NBA Champion Golden State Warriors, concerts, cultural events, family shows and more, totaling nearly 200 events per year. Thrive City, the surrounding district of Chase Center, will be a community gathering space providing a slate of year-round health and wellness programming, including Get Fit clinics, yoga sessions, farmer’s markets, ice skating and much more.
About Olafur Eliasson
Olafur Eliasson (b.1967) grew up in Iceland and Denmark. In 1995, he founded Studio Olafur Eliasson in Berlin, which today includes craftsmen, architects, archivists, researchers, administrators, cooks, programmers, art historians and specialized technicians. Since the mid-1990s, Eliasson has realized numerous major exhibitions and projects around the world. In 2003, The weather project, installed in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern, was seen by more than two million people; his current solo exhibition In real life opened in Tate Modern’s Blavatnik building this July 2019. Eliasson’s projects in public space include Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2007, designed with Kjetil Thorsen for London’s Kensington Gardens; The New York City Waterfalls, 2008; and Ice Watch, for which Eliasson and geologist Minik Rosing transported massive blocks of glacial ice from Greenland to Copenhagen (2014), Paris (2015), and London (2018) to raise awareness of climate change. In 2012, Eliasson founded the social business Little Sun, and in 2014, he and architect Sebastian Behmann founded Studio Other Spaces, an office for art and architecture.
Well-known examples of Eliasson’s use of mirrors include Your glacial expectations, 2012, in which a series of elliptical mirrors were integrated into the landscape around the Kvadrat headquarters in Ebeltoft, Denmark, and The weather project, 2003, where a mirrored ceiling installed at Tate Modern, London, played a role in creating the illusion of a setting sun and inspired audience interaction on a large scale.
Visit olafureliasson.net; studiootherspaces.net; or littlesun.com or follow @olafureliasson on Twitter; @studioolafureliasson and @soe_kitchen on Instagram; and @studioolafureliasson on Facebook.
About Dorka Keehn
Dorka Keehn is the founder and principal of Keehn On Art, an art-consulting firm that specializes in commissioning works of art in the public domain. Keehn on Art works directly with real estate developers, local governments, and artists to commission and facilitate the placement of two-dimensional and large-scale artwork in public and private commercial spaces. In 2011, Keehn was appointed to the San Francisco Arts Commission where she serves as the chair of the Visual Arts Committee, which commissions all artwork pertaining to the City of San Francisco’s Public Art Program. Keehn is also the co-founder of Sites Unseen, a urban-based project that brings visual and performing arts programming to neglected alleys in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena District. In 2013, Keehn lead the fundraising efforts for The Bay Lights, the $12M 25,000 LED light installation by artist Leo Villareal for the Bay Bridge. For more information, visit