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James Turrell

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
    Two new works by James Turrell are currently being built and installed at PaceWildenstein in Chelsea at 534 West 25th Street. The public is invited to attend a preview on Tuesday, December 2 from 6-8 p.m. when the artist will be present. The exhibition, Turrell’s first at PaceWildenstein since he joined the gallery last year, will remain on view through January 10, 2004. The site-specific walk-in light installations – including First Moment, a new Ganzfeld Piece from a continuing series of works named for an optical phenomenon in perceptual psychology – occupy nearly the entire footprint of PaceWildenstein’s Chelsea gallery. After ascending a set of stairs, viewers enter into an illuminated space where they are immersed in a homogeneous light whose saturating effect alters optical perceptions. Dinnebito, the other new work, is named after a small town in the Black Mesa region of northeastern Arizona at the “four corners” region of the U.S. The work is related to the Space Division Constructions that Turrell first made in 1976. Constructions from this series were included in the artist’s 1980 solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In Dinnebito, however, unlike the earlier Space Division Constructions, light originates from inside rather than from an outside source. For over three decades, James Turrell has used light and indeterminate space -- not objects or images -- to extend and enhance perception. The artist once remarked, “I am really interested in the qualities of one space sensing another. It is like looking at someone looking. Objectivity is gained by being once removed. As you plumb a space with vision, it is possible to ‘see yourself see’. This seeing, this plumbing, imbues space with consciousness.” The work of James Turrell (b. 1943 Los Angeles) has been the subject of over 140 solo exhibitions worldwide since 1967. James Turrell: Knowing Light, an exhibition of a 4,000 sq. ft. Ganzfeld piece and the inauguration of a permanent Skyspace entitled Light Reign, is currently on view at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle and has recently been extended through February 8, 2004. The artist is also preparing for an exhibition to open at the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern in Spain in December 2004. In addition to the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle and The Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, which opened October 2003, permanent installations of James Turrell’s work are on view in several museums including: the Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Panza Collection, Varese, Italy; P.S. 1, Long Island City, New York; Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Arizona; and the Sprengel Museum, Hanover, Germany. 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 the Dia Art Foundation and the 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 nineteen 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). 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.