MacArthur Fellows Program

James Turrell

Light Sculptor | Class of March 1984

Light Sculptor
Flagstaff, Arizona
41 at time of award
Area of Focus
3-D Visual Art

James Turrell is an artist who creates works using light-inhabiting spaces (environments created with light).

His indoor installations created with artificial and natural light include Wedge Work, an evolving piece begun in 1969, and Aperture (1976), which the artist adapts to each exhibition space.  Turrell’s Perceptual Cell is a number of movable works designed to be entered as single rooms.  He has also produced a series of "skyspaces," enclosed chambers that focus attention on precisely framed views of sky exposed through apertures in the roof.  His “skyspaces” include Tending (Blue) at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas and Light Reign at the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Turrell is affiliated with the Skystone Foundation in Flagstaff, Arizona, where, since 1979, he has been constructing astronomically aligned chambers and passageways in Roden Crater, an extinct volcano crater near the Grand Canyon.  He has had major exhibitions in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Whitney Museum in New York City, the Portland Center for the Visual Arts, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

Turrell received a B.A. (1965) from Pomona College and an M.F.A. (1973) from the Claremont Graduate School.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

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