Turrell, James

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Turrell, James

James Turrell, 1943–, American installation and land artist, b. Los Angeles, grad. Pomona College (B.A., 1965), Claremont Graduate School (M.F.A., 1973). Turrell's career began in the 1960s art scene in Los Angeles. His characteristic works include cross-projected halogen lights that create illuminated geometrical shapes on bare walls, in corners, and in space (mid-1960s); Wedgeworks (1969 on), huge, room-filling planes of light; Dark Spaces, in which sensory deprivation yields swirls of color; pieces (1990s) that envelop a supine viewer in patterns of light; and works (2000s) involving two-dimensional holograms. Since 1974, Turrell's major work has been Roden Crater, an extinct volcano near Flagstaff, Ariz., where underground tunnels and rooms, some fitted with sculptures and lenses, are carved with "Skyspaces," openings to the sky that transform celestial light into ever-changing experiential art (see also land art). A Quaker from childhood, Turrell imbues his work with an abstract spirituality that is especially present in his skyscape at the Friends Meetinghouse, Houston (1995).

See G. Bohme and J. Heynen, James Turrell: Geometry of Light (2009); museum catalogs by C. Giménez et. al (2013) and M. Govan and C. Y. Kim (2013).

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