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b. 1943, USA

James Turrell Biography

James Turrell was born in Los Angeles in 1943. His undergraduate studies at Pomona College focused on psychology and mathematics; only later, in graduate school, did he pursue art, receiving an MFA from the Claremont Graduate School in Claremont, California. Turrell's work involves explorations in light and space that speak to viewers without words, impacting the eye, body, and mind with the force of a spiritual awakening.

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'I want to create an atmosphere that can be consciously plumbed with seeing,' says the artist,

'like the wordless thought that comes from looking in a fire.'

Informed by his studies in perceptual psychology and optical illusions, Turrell's work allows us to see ourselves 'seeing.' Whether harnessing the light at sunset or transforming the glow of a television set into a fluctuating portal, Turrell's art places viewers in a realm of pure experience.

Situated near the Grand Canyon and Arizona's Painted Desert is Roden Crater, an extinct volcano the artist has been transforming into a celestial observatory for the past thirty years. Working with cosmological phenomena that have interested man since the dawn of civilisation and have prompted responses such as Stonehenge and the Mayan calendar, Turrell's crater brings the heavens down to earth, linking the actions of people with the movements of planets and distant galaxies. His fascination with the phenomena of light is ultimately connected to a very personal, inward search for mankind's place in the universe. Influenced by his Quaker faith, which he characterises as having a 'straightforward, strict presentation of the sublime,' Turrell's art prompts greater self-awareness through a similar discipline of silent contemplation, patience, and meditation. His ethereal installations enlist the common properties of light to communicate feelings of transcendence and the divine.

Turrell's work is represented in numerous public collections including the Tate Modern, London; the Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the de Young Museum, San Francisco; the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis; the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; and Hansol Museum, Wonju, Verese (Italy) Panza Foundation.

Exhibition view: Group Exhibition, Bloom of Joy, Pace Gallery, Hong Kong (4 September–15 October 2020). © James Turrell. Courtesy Pace Gallery.

James Turrell Featured Artworks

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Centaurus, Medium Elliptical Glass by James Turrell contemporary artwork
James TurrellCentaurus, Medium Elliptical Glass, 2019L.E.D. light, etched glass and shallow space
180.3 x 134.6 cm
Pace Gallery
City of Light by James Turrell contemporary artwork
James TurrellCity of Light, 2019121 x 213 cm Almine Rech Contact Gallery
Atlantis, Medium Rectangle Glass by James Turrell contemporary artwork
James TurrellAtlantis, Medium Rectangle Glass, 2019L.E.D. light, etched glass and shallow space
142.2 x 185.4 cm
Pace Gallery
Deep Sky by James Turrell contemporary artwork
James TurrellDeep Sky, 1984Aquatint etching on Rives BFK paper
Galería OMR Enquire
VARDA (03) by James Turrell contemporary artwork
James TurrellVARDA (03), 2017LED light, etched glass, shallow space
180.3 x 134.6 cm
Pace Gallery
Untitled (XXXIII A) by James Turrell contemporary artwork
James TurrellUntitled (XXXIII A), 2015Reflection hologram
56.2 x 46.4 x 2.5 cm
Pace Gallery
Untitled (XXXII G) by James Turrell contemporary artwork
James TurrellUntitled (XXXII G), 2014Reflection hologram
63.2 x 44.9 x 2.5 cm
Pace Gallery
Untitled (XIV C) by James Turrell contemporary artwork
James TurrellUntitled (XIV C), 2005Reflection hologram
58.4 x 43.2 cm
Pace Gallery

James Turrell Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Bloom of Joy at Pace Gallery, Hong Kong
Open Now
4 September–15 October 2020 Group Exhibition Bloom of Joy Pace Gallery, Hong KongHong Kong
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Show, Group Show East Hampton at Pace Gallery, New York
Closed
22 July–2 August 2020 Group Show Group Show East Hampton East Hampton, 68 Park PlaceNew York
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Bending Light at Pace Gallery, Seoul
Closed
5 June–14 August 2020 Group Exhibition Bending Light Pace Gallery, SeoulSeoul

James Turrell Represented By

Almine Rech contemporary art gallery in Brussels, Belgium Almine Rech Brussels, London, New York, Paris, Shanghai
Pace Gallery contemporary art gallery in New York, USA Pace Gallery New York, London, Geneva, Palo Alto, Hong Kong, Seoul, Beijing

James Turrell In Ocula Magazine

Las Vegas Mansion with James Turrell Skyspace Listed for Sale Ocula News Las Vegas Mansion with James Turrell Skyspace Listed for Sale Las Vegas, 31 July 2020

The pyramid-shaped construction offers a singular view of the desert sky.

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How to Make a Sculpture Park that Doesn’t Suck Ocula Report How to Make a Sculpture Park that Doesn’t Suck By Georges Armaos, London

After researching 75 top sculpture parks and highlighting a 'magnificent seven' parks around the world, Gagosian's Georges Armaos has a formula for creating art sites that succeed publicly, critically, and financially. It's not easy.

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Almine Rech-Picasso Goes Global Ocula Conversation Almine Rech-Picasso Goes Global By Sam Gaskin, Shanghai

French gallerist Almine Rech-Picasso opened her first space in Asia on Shanghai 's historic Bund in July this year, bringing her eponymous gallery's total locations to five. The Shanghai gallery occupies roughly 4,000 square feet on the second floor of the three-storey Amber Building, a beautiful warehouse space, originally occupied by the...

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Berlin, Boners and Brecht Ocula Report Berlin, Boners and Brecht By Diana d'Arenberg, Berlin

Apparently my timing sucks. One week too late for Berlin Gallery Weekend, and one month too early for the Berlin Biennale. ‘You should have been here last weekend for Berlin Gallery Weekend!’ a Berliner friend exclaimed. ‘Everyone was having orgies at Soho House! It was the best art world networking!’ I shifted...

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James Turrell In Related Press

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GOMA Finally Switches On its Massive James Turrell Light Installation Related Press GOMA Finally Switches On its Massive James Turrell Light Installation 14 July 2018, Broadsheet

The long-awaited James Turrell light installation has finally launched at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art. The gallery threw the switch on the Night Life 2018 last night. It will now illuminate the eastern and southern façades of GOMA every evening, with shifting patterns of coloured light from sunset to midnight.

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MASS MoCA: It’s a Site for All Eyes Related Press MASS MoCA: It’s a Site for All Eyes 15 June 2017, The New York Times

MASS MoCA, the vast, multibuilding museum of contemporary art here, is a weird and wonderful place. For one, the dominance of brick walls, wood floors, big windows and frequent columns of its repurposed 19th-century factory buildings is the apotheosis of SoHo, whose small-industry loft spaces were taken over by commercial art galleries in the...

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A Journey Through James Turrell’s Disorienting World at the Newly Expanded MASS MoCA Related Press A Journey Through James Turrell’s Disorienting World at the Newly Expanded MASS MoCA 14 June 2017, Hyperallergic

Light can be bright and dull, clear and murky, or velvety and abrasive. In James Turrell's Perfectly Clear (1991), the viewer is subjected to an electromagnetic storm, a cascade of colors: rose, magenta, turquoise. Here, the medium is light, or, rather, the human optical-neurological apparatus that apprehends light. After putting on shoe covers...

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A Museum Where Giant Art Has Room to Breathe Related Press A Museum Where Giant Art Has Room to Breathe 26 May 2017, The New York Times

The master plan for MASS MoCA in 1986 was a wildly ambitious dream: to simultaneously rehabilitate all 28 buildings of a shuttered 19th-century factory in this depressed Berkshire County town for the long-term display of monumental art installations.

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James Turrell In Video & Audio

James Turrell: Gathered Sky Related Video & Audio James Turrell: Gathered Sky 9 December 2014, NOWNESS / 23 September 2014

An introspective James Turrell invites you to surrender under the immateriality of light with "Gathered Sky," a spellbinding permanent installation in Beijing's Temple Hotel. Three decades after turning the Roden Crater, an extinct volcano in Arizona, into a celestial work of art that was recently exhibited at the Guggenheim and Los...

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