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CityPASS Home  »  City Traveler Blog  »  James Turrell's Art Comes to "Light" in NYC, Houston

James Turrell's Art Comes to "Light" in NYC, Houston

James Turrell Photo: Florian Holzherr © James Turrell

The next time you walk into a dark room and flip on the light switch, imagine yourself creating a work of art. James Turrell’s approach isn’t quite so simplistic, but he does find inspiration in the basic function of electric illumination. In a career spanning five decades, he has cast cubes of light into a room, built hallways and rooms of illuminated color, and cultivated fields of shifting light that could disorient you faster than a corn maze in the fall.

It’s impossible to simply observe Turrell’s light work. As a viewer, you become immersed in it. While it’s common to think of light as a means of illumination, the artist considers the light itself a revelation. Manipulating the interplay between light and space, he captures a sense of the divine and encourages both contemplation and agitation.

CityPASS travelers can explore the work of this iconic American artist at what “The New York Times” called the biggest event in the art world this summer — concurrent exhibitions in New York, Houston and L.A. In a joint announcement, the museums’ curators said,

“The three simultaneous and complementary exhibitions together offer a full sense of Turrell’s oeuvre, and explore different facets of his five-decade career. Audiences at all three exhibitions will be able to see and experience an unprecedented range of his work — from a retrospective in Los Angeles, to work from the extensive permanent collection and commissions in Houston, to a monumental site-specific installation in New York.”

James Turrell Aten Reign, 2013 Daylight and LED light, dimensions variable © James Turrell Installation view: James Turrell, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, June 21–September 25, 2013 Photo: David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

It’s the first time in more than 30 years that a New York museum is showcasing Turrell’s work. Befitting the summer solstice, the exhibition opened on June 21 at the Guggenheim, where the artist transformed the Frank Lloyd Wright rotunda into a spiral of raining light. Four works from the museum’s permanent collection supplement the featured installation, called Aten Reign (2013).

In conjunction with the exhibition opening, the Guggenheim launched a free mobile app that includes video interviews with Turrell and the exhibition curators.

Exclusive interviews with the installation team who put together the apparatus that made Aten Reign possible give visitors a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes drama of the rotunda’s transformation.

The app, supported by Bloomberg and available for free download at guggenheim.org/apps, presents an array of content, from multi-media guides for current and past exhibitions; to virtual tours of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building; to interviews with artists, curators and exhibition designers.

At Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts, seven light installations explore the ways in which light shapes space. Several of the artist’s installations will be open to the public for the first time. Named after the museum’s permanent collection piece The Light Inside (1999), the exhibition includes the artist’s “Mapping Spaces” portfolio and papers related to his ongoing Roden Crater project in a dormant volcano near Flagstaff, Arizona.

MFAH director Gary Tinterow commented that, “James Turrell has worked with the medium of light to create some of the most extraordinary and deeply beautiful art of our time. He is among the handful of artists who can be credited with changing the course of American art.”

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has staged the first major retrospective of the artist’s work, with 50 installations spanning the evolution of his career, from early geometric light projections to his more current work with two-dimensional holograms.

James Turrell, Aurora B: Tall Glass, 2010, LED, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, gift of the estate of Isabel B. Wilson in memory of Peter C. Marzio. © James Turrell / Photograph by Thomas DuBrock

Exhibition: James Turrell
Venue: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, New York City
Dates: June 21 – September 25, 2013

Exhibition: James Turrell: The Light Inside
Venue: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Dates: June 9 – September 22, 2013

Exhibition: James Turrell: A Retrospective
Venue: Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Date: May 26, 2013 – April 6, 2014

James Turrell Aten Reign, 2013 Daylight and LED light, dimensions variable © James Turrell Installation view: James Turrell, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, June 21–September 25, 2013 Photo: David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York
James Turrell Aten Reign, 2013 Daylight and LED light, dimensions variable © James Turrell Installation view: James Turrell, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, June 21–September 25, 2013 Photo: David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York
James Turrell, Acro, Green, 1968, projected light, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum purchase. © James Turrell

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