Carsten Höller


Birth Name: Carsten Höller

Born: 1961, Brussels, Belgium

Nationality: Belgian

Education: 1985-92 studied agriculture at the University of Kiel

Represented by Esther Schipper Berlin, Casey Kaplan New York, Gagosian Gallery Los Angeles, and Air de Paris, Paris


Born to German parents working for the European Economic Community, Höller grew up in Brussels. He holds a doctorate in agricultural science, specializing in the area of insect communication strategies, from University of Kiel. Only during the late 1980s did he first begin making art. However, he has been working as a research entomologist until 1994.


In his work, Höller creates situations which question familiar forms of perception and allow exhibition visitors to experiment on themselves, often inviting the public's active participation. In their form, Höller's works are occasionally reminiscent of scientific laboratory arrangements, allowing the viewer to become the subject of an experiment. His work since the early 1990s has encompassed buildings, vehicles, slides, toys, games, narcotics, animals, performances, lectures, 3D films, flashing lights, mirrors, eye-wear and sensory deprivation tanks.


Among Höller's well known works is a series of slides made from 1998 that is an ongoing project. Not only are slides a practical means of transportation, but the act of sliding down one produces a loss of control, inducing a particular state of mind related to freedom from constraint. His most famous slides include that made for the offices of Miuccia Prada in Milan (2000) and the first slides made for the Berlin Biennale in 1998.


Höller's artistic practice reflects the interaction between work and public in various ways, often chemically analyzing the nature of human emotions. His avid interest in duality harks back to his exhibition "One Day One Day" (2003) at the Färgfabriken in Stockholm, where two works were shown opposite each other and changed every day without the public’s knowledge. His explorations often involve playful elements such as in Sliding Doors (2003), a series of electronic sliding doors with a mirrored surface through which the audience passes in a seemingly endless passage. 


In 2008, he opened the restaurant/nightclub "The Double Club" in London in collaboration with Germano Celant and Fondazione Prada for a six-month period. 50% of its profits were donated to a charity that generates specialised projects to help abused women and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Also in 2008, Höller installed The Revolving Hotel Room, a hotel room for two, as part of an exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum, New York. At his 2010 show at the Hamburger Bahnhof, visitors could paid 1,000 euros ($1,370) for a night on an exposed circular platform perched above 12 castrated reindeer, 24 canaries, eight mice and two flies.


Carsten Höller had his first solo exhibition, curated by Nicolaus Schafhausen, in Cologne in 1993. That same year, he was invited to Aperto '93 at the Venice Biennale. Höller's works have since been shown internationally, including solo exhibitions at Fondazione Prada, Milan (2000), the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2003), Musée d'Art Contemporain, Marseille (2004), MASS MoCA, (2006), Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2008), Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin and Museum Boijmans van Beuningen (2010), Rotterdam. Höller was included in Documenta X (1997), where he created "Ein Haus für Schweine und Menschen" with Rosemarie Trockel. In 2006, he conceived "Test Site" for The Unilever Series at Tate Modern, London, and represented Sweden (with his wife Miriam Bäckström) at the 51st Biennale di Venezia. In 2011, Höller curated "JapanCongo" at Le Magasin (Centre National d'Art Contemporain) in Grenoble and at Garage (Center of Contemporary Culture) in Moscow, a show of contemporary African and Japanese art from the private collection of Jean Pigozzi.


Carsten Höller lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden.