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James Turrell

Light Leadings

About James Turrell

James Turrell (b. 1943, Los Angeles) uses light and indeterminate space—not objects or images—to extend and enhance perception. His work has been the subject of over 160 solo exhibitions worldwide since 1967, including the three-venue museum exhibition presented concurrently at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in 2013. In addition to permanent installations at institutions such as Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, MoMA PS1, Long Island City, New York, and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Turrell’s work can be seen in over 70 international collections. Since 1968, when Turrell received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the artist has been the recipient of numerous awards including a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (1984); Chevalier, L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France (1991); Commandeur, L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2006); and National Medal of Arts, Washington, D.C. (2014); The School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University Medal Award (2017).

Press Release

  • James Turrell: Light Leadings
    PaceWildenstein is pleased to present a new series of works by James Turrell on view from March 23 through April 28, 2007 at 534 West 25th Street in New York City. James Turrell: Light Leadings will feature five installations from the artist’s Tall Glass series as well as nine reflection light works and three transmission light works from 2005-2007. The artist will be present at a public reception held on Friday, March 23rd from 6-8 p.m. The Tall Glass series utilize a computer controlled color array contained within a wall aperture to generate a light field defined by the transformation of color. Installations entitled Sensing Thought, Color Within and As Imagined, all termed Tall Glass works, are constructed from a core of Neon lights that Turrell has individually programmed to subtly shift color over a period of time. Each piece is constructed to create a tangible and physical plane of light. The artist has likened the processional development of colors to a musical system utilizing themes and variations. Installations entitled Sojourn, Stand Alone, and Light Leadings are similar but with an array of LED lights that are programmed over time. The physical construction of these works relates to the earlier series called Shallow Space Constructions from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Turrell’s light works, made using a holographic process that the artist has developed over the past two decades, will also be included in the exhibition. Nine of the small reflection light works will accompany three of the large transmission light works, the latter being viewed for the first time in this show. Measuring six feet in height, the large transmission light works have afforded the artist a greater ability to manipulate the visual picture plane. Turrell’s holographic works are closely related to his Projection Series. Begun in 1966, these works use projected light to create perceptual volumes, such as cubes or pyramids as well as planes of light. Some appear to float in the corner of the room while others are anchored to the floor. A third group consists of planes of light that connect to the ceiling, corner or floor. These works isolate the ways in which light can be given substance in a space where it interacts with the viewer and make the wall into a picture plane. In the large transmission light works as well as the smaller reflection light works, Turrell reexamines the phenomenon of the Projections. As in many of the works from the '60s, a sheet of intense light is at the center of the light work, but these elements are now liberated from the surface of the wall and tilt radically through the ambiguous space of the glass. In this way the artist manages to convey a new sense of mass and physicality on these planes of light. James Turrell (b. 1943, Los Angeles) has had over 160 solo exhibitions worldwide since 1967. Light Leadings is the artist's third exhibition with PaceWildenstein. The gallery previously presented two major installations in 2004 and an exhibition of new work in 2005. In December 2004 IVAM Institut Valencià d’Art Modern in Spain mounted an important retrospective of Turrell’s work curated by Ana María Torres. Earlier in that year, James Turrell: Knowing Light, an exhibition of a 4,000 sq. ft. Ganzfeld piece, and the inauguration of a permanent Skyspace entitled Light Reign, went on view at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle. In addition to 22 permanent installations at institutions such as the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; The Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, which opened in October 2003; and P.S. 1, Long Island City, New York, James Turrell’s work can been seen in over 70 international collections including: the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Panza Collection, Varese, Italy; Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Arizona; Sprengel Museum, Hanover, Germany; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Since 1972 Turrell has been transforming the Roden Crater, a natural cinder volcano situated on the southwestern edge of the Painted Desert in northern Arizona, into a large-scale artwork. Through the medium of light, the piece relates to the surrounding sky, land, and culture. As an observatory, the Roden Crater will allow visitors to see celestial phenomena with the naked eye. Construction of the project is under the direction of Dia Art Foundation and Skystone Foundation with support from the Lannan Foundation. Since 1968 when Turrell received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the artist has been the recipient of a total of 21 awards ranging from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (1984) to being named a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government (1991). For six consecutive years, from 1997 to 2002, Turrell was given six various prizes and awards and three honorary doctorates from the Chicago Art Institute (1999); Claremont Graduate University, California (2001); and the Royal Academy of Art, London (2002). As of last year, the artist was awarded French Commander of Arts and Letters and the National Arts Club Artist Award, New York. James Turrell has a B.A. in psychology from Pomona College. He attended graduate art classes at the University of California, Irvine from 1965-1966 and received an M.A. from Claremont Graduate School in 1973. The artist currently lives in Flagstaff, Arizona. Additional information for James Turrell: Light Leadings is available upon request by contacting Jennifer Benz Joy, Public Relations Associate, at 212.421.3292 or via email at