James Turrell's Most Notable Work

2/26/2021

James Turrell has been creating extensive amount of work since the 60s that exposes perception and the force of light. This 79 years old American artist, a leading figure of the Light and Space movement, has produced a number of incredible installations around the globe. Turrell studied perceptual psychology, mathematics and art at Pomona College and Claremont Graduate School in California.

For more than half a century, Turrell worked with light and space to create artworks that expands the limit and wonder of the human imagination. In 2019, rapper and fashion designer, Kanye West contributed $10 million dollars to the James Turrell Foundation towards the completion of the Roden Crater, an inactive volcano in the Painted Desert in Arizona that the artist has been working on a monumental work of land art for the past fifty years. Turrell was a licensed pilot since he was sixteen. He first discovered the crater during his time flying over the desert.

Known as Turrell’s best known work, only a handful group of people have experienced the crater. The new funding revived the updated master plan that includes a restaurant, a visitor’s centre, cabins and a “light spa”. Kanye West filmed his new IMAX film, Jesus is King at the Crater in 2019.

The filming of Jesus is King at the Roden Crater

You can find his permanent installations in 29 countries. So follow the light and explore the artist’s most celebrated installations around the world.

Within Without (2010)
National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, Australia

Within Without

One of Turrell’s skyspaces, this installation is a specifically proportioned chamber with an aperture in the ceiling open to the sky. Skyspaces can be autonomous structures or integrated into existing architecture. The aperture can be round, ovular or square.

Bridget’s Bardo (2009)
Kunstmuseum in Wolfsburg, Germany

Bridget's Bardo

This installation was part of The Wolfsburg Project at the Kunstmuseum and exploits the Ganzfeld effect, a spectacle of perception that happens when looking at a structureless field of vision.

Aten Reign (2013)
The Guggenheim Museum in New York, USA

Aten Reign

Turrell transformed the museum’s central rotunda, filling it with natural and artificial light of changing colours is the centrepiece of the artist’s Guggenheim show.

Sun | Moon Chamber (in progress)
Roden Crater in Arizona, USA

Sun | Moon Chamber

The chamber plays as a giant pinhole camera within the Roden Crater, transmitting light from the East Portal aperture. The Alpha Tunnel focuses images on the west side of the monumental image stone in the Sun | Moon Chamber annually for the southernmost sunset and every 18.61 years to mark the Major Lunar Standstill.

Breathing Light (2013)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art in California, USA

Breathing Light

Breathing Light is one of the artist’s Ganzfeld installations, designed to entirely eliminate the viewer’s depth perception. When you step into this space, it becomes almost impossible to gauge the dimensions of the room.

Bindu Shards (2010)
Gagosian Gallery in London, United Kingdom

Bindu Shards

The name refers to a kind of cosmic singularity in Hinduism and for this Turrell has created a bathysphere-like chamber which visitors are required to enter one at a time in order to experience its light show.

Celestial Vault (1996)
The Hague, Netherlands

Celestial Vault

Described not as a sculpture in the landscape, but as a tool to gaze at light and colour. Built in 1996, this tool is a massive, creating an optical illusion of a rotunda sky. Visitors must climb stairs on the dune and walk through a tunnel leading to a sweeping grassy caldera.

Space that Sees (1992)
The Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Israel

Space that Sees

Located in Israel, this is a part of Turrell’s skyspace series can be viewed as performance pieces responding to and interacting with environmental conditions and fluctuations with time.

Twilight Epiphany (2012)
Rice University in Texas, USA

Twilight Epiphany

One of Turrell’s largest skyspaces in the world, Twilight Epiphany can seat more than 100 people on two tiers. An LED-light arrangement is projected onto the 72-foot square roof pyramid pavilion and aperture in the ceiling, creating a light spectacle that plays with changing hues of the cosmos during sunrise and sunset.

Akhob (2013)
Louis Vuitton store in Las Vegas Boulevard, the USA

Akhob

A Louis Vuitton commissioned installation, Akhob is perceivably one of the more bizarre ways to experience Turrell’s work. Visitors will experience a kaleidoscopic shades of electric blues, oranges and pinks as the walls of the two rooms bleed in and out of sight.

House of Light (1997)
Honshu, Japan

House of Light

Located in a guesthouse for meditation in Japan, Turrell assimilated characteristics of traditional Japanese architecture, aesthetics and vulture with his own light and shadows gimmick. As an example, visitors can soak in a tub illuminated at night and by day natural light seeping in from the surrounding forest.

Piz Uter (2005)
Zuoz in Engadin, Switzerland

Piz Uter 

The autonomic structure is decked up with stone masonry. The aperture in the ceiling is made in way that visitors will not be able to perceive the thickness of the roof plane. This creates a two-dimensional effect with the sky appearing as a flat painting.

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