“My work is about space and the light that inhabits it. It is about how you can confront that space and plumb it. It is about your seeing, like the wordless thought that comes from looking into a fire.” James Turrell
James Turrell is an internationally acclaimed light and space artist whose work can be found in collections worldwide. Over more than four decades, he has created striking works that play with perception and the effect of light within a created space. His fascination with the phenomena of light is related to his personal, inward search for mankind’s place in the universe. Influenced by his Quaker upbringing, which he characterizes as having a ‘straightforward, strict presentation of the sublime’, Turrell’s art prompts greater self-awareness though a similar discipline of silent contemplation, patience, and meditation.
Turrell began his artistic career in California in the early 1960s as one of the leaders of a new group of artists working with light and space. Over the past two decades, his work has been recognized in exhibitions in major museums around the world, including the Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California and the Panza di Biumo Collection, Varese, Italy.
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. His large-scale, often architectural works incorporate the complex interplay of sky, light and atmosphere in motion across expanses of ocean, desert, and city. The recipient of several prestigious awards such as the Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellowships, Turrell currently resides in Flagstaff, Arizona, in order to oversee the completion of his most important work, a monumental land art project at Roden Crater, an extinct volcano the artist has been transforming into a naked-eye celestial observatory for the past 33 years.
This interview is conducted by Diana Lehr for this radio show.