James Turrell: Knowing Light
Image 1 / 3: James Turrell. Spread.
Image 2 / 3: James Turrell. Magnetron.
Image 3 / 3: James Turrell. Milk Run III.
Throughout his career, internationally acclaimed artist James Turrell has thrilled visitors around the world with his light and space installations. To celebrate the new Skyspace and give audiences a full taste of the vast range of Turrell’s work, the Henry Art Gallery presented “James Turrell: Knowing Light”, premiering a new large-scale light installation as well as models and drawings of his extraordinary 30-year Roden Crater project. “Knowing Light” advanced the long-standing relationship Turrell shares with the Henry and with Seattle. Beginning with four light installations for the inaugural exhibition at Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA) in the early 1980s, Turrell went on to work with the Henry in 1992, staging a major retrospective exhibition of his work titled “James Turrell: Sensing Space”. For “Knowing Light” Turrell executed one of the largest, most ambitious of his “Ganzefeld” works to date. Ganzfelds are evenly illuminated and undifferentiated fields, first explored in perceptual psychology. Turrell’s works creates similar homogenous, undifferentiated light fields of saturated color that seem to hover, their distance and location difficult to specify. Spread was a 4,000 square foot walk-in environment occupying more than half of the Henry’s spacious Stroum Gallery. Shaffner was another walk-in installation, a “spectral wedgework” form the Milk Run Series. Entering the darkened space the viewer sees a multi-hued wedge of light that forms an illusory volume. Also on view is a Magnetron-an aperture work lit by television, as well as a selection of models, drawings, and photographs, documenting Turrell’s monumental work at Roden Crater in Arizona. By manipulating light and playing with human perception, Turrell’s remarkable spaces isolate light giving it form, depth, and mass. As much to do with vision and perception as issues of light and color, shape and form, Turrell’s works suggest a painterly sensibility in three dimensions, while forcing a delightful investigation of the very act of seeing.