James Turrell      Works  |  Bio  |  Press 


American, b. 1943
Lives and works in Arizona

In the 1960s, world-renowned artist James Turrell introduced an art that was not an object but an experience in perception by manipulating light rather than paint or sculptural material. His academic training as a perceptual psychologist provided the content for questioning the act of seeing, placing viewers in the realm of pure experience and elicitation of a sense of self-awareness. Turrell has become known not only for his light projections and installations, but also for his continued work on his Roden Crater project—the conversion of a natural volcanic crater on the edge of the Painted Desert in northern Arizona – that has been his focus for more than three decades and is arguably one of the most ambitious artworks ever conceived by a single artist.

Turrell earned his BA in Experimental Psychology at Pomona College at Claremont in 1965, followed by an M.A. in Art from Claremont Graduate School in 1973. While his work is very much informed by this academic experience, it is also rooted in his Quaker faith, which for him, offers a “straightforward, strict presentation of the sublime.” Turrell’s ethereal installations utilize the common properties of light to communicate feelings of transcendence and the divine.

His work is represented in numerous public collections including the Tate Modern, London; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. The James Turrell Museum opened in Colomé, Argentina in 2009. Solo exhibitions have been presented at the Stedlijk Museum (1976); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1980); Israel Museum (1982); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1984); MAK, Vienna (1998-1999); Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh (2002-2003); “The Wolfsburg Project” (2009-2010), Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany; and Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow (2011). A major retrospective will open at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 2012, traveling to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in additional to other venues.