Rune Olsen (b. 1971, Stord Norway)

Rune Olsen is a sculptor and makes drawings. His figurative and representational artworks incorporate a wide variety of easily found and domestic materials such as industrial copper pipe sourced at the hardware store, Q-tips, cheeseballs, a bathtub, a sink, and a shower curtain, among many other kinds of materials and objects. The resulting sculptures and drawings reflect the everyday struggle to enact humanity in a traumatized and anxiety ridden world. He often references his own childhood and background as the subject of his work, having grown up being a bullied queer kid on a small religious island in the fjords of Norway during the height of the AIDS crisis. His artworks have also addressed eating disorders and resulting body dysmorphia, as well as his own experience with neurodivergence. The sculptures and drawings elicit the complex and contrasting emotions that many of us experience while navigating contemporary life, recognizing that exhilaration and disgust, self-hate and fulfillment can exist simultaneously. By continuing to confront his own history, observe normative narratives, analyze human behavior in viral memes, and use domestic ready-mades to sculpt these vulnerable states, Rune Olsen’s work reflects the everyday challenge to be human.

Since his first solo show of assisted ready-mades in 1997 at UKS in Norway he has exhibited widely throughout USA and Europe. His sculptures relating to the body and human condition have been exhibited at The Bronx Museum in New York, the Drawing Biennial at Kunstnernes Hus in Norway, LaMama Galleria, Islip Art Museum, Jones Center for Contemporary Art, Montgomery Art Museum, Smack Mellon and Exit Art.

His work has been reviewed in Art Forum, Sculpture Magazine, Art in America, and has been the focus of several magazine features and interviews. Rune Olsen has won multiple awards from The Norwegian Government, including a distinguished three-year work grant for young emerging artists. He has been awarded a studio residency with Artist Alliance in New York, a place at Art Omi International Artists Residency, and a residency with The Headlands Center for the Arts. He is a 2009 Fellow in Sculpture from the New York Foundation for the Arts. From 2011 - 2012 he held a yearlong residency at Citè Internationale des arts in Paris. Rune Olsen has taught at numerous institutions including the Outreach program at Cooper Union, the undergraduate program at John Jay College, and most recently he was an Assistant Professor in Visual Arts in both the undergraduate and graduate programs at Boston University. Rune Olsen currently lives in the Hudson Valley, New York.