James Turrell: Master of light. Player of perceptions. Orchestrator of aesthetic experience. Opening three major shows this June at the Guggenheim, LACMA , and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston – Turrell is the art event of the summer.
Never seen his work? Perhaps because many of his installations are hidden away – often in smaller museums and private homes around the world. He’s especially known for designing Skyspaces – a viewing area open to the elements. Turrell orchestrates an experience for the viewer with the use of computerized lights. The artist takes the viewer on a sensory journey – utterly transforming the viewer’s perception of color and depth based on a subtle and masterful manipulation of light.
This is what I experienced recently at The Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida – home of Turrell’s Skypace, “Joseph’s Coat.” At thirty minutes before sunset, about two dozen people entered the Skyspace chamber and stretched out on the floor together. For an hour we stared at the hole in the ceiling. It went like this.
What I love most about Turrell’s work is the way he invites the viewer to participate and interact with the work. In fact, his works are nothing without our sensory perception. He asks the viewer to surrender to time. Surrender to the elements. And also to give up our endless meaning-making. When we do this, we receive a rare gift of pure aesthetic appreciation.