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James Turrell

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James Turrell

American, b. 1943
Pomona College (BA); University of California, Irvine; Claremont Graduate School (MA)

James Turrell was born May 6, 1943 in Los Angeles, California. In 1965, he earned a BA in Psychology at Pomona College and in 1966 began an Art Graduate Studies program at the University of California at Irvine. During his time in Irvine, Turrell moved to the Mendota Hotel in Ocean Park and began a series of works exploring light manipulation, using light as a medium. He finished his studies in 1973 with a MA in art from Claremont Graduate University. The following year, in 1974, he moved to Flagstaff, Arizona to begin a series of light spaces at Roden Crater, an extinct volcanic cinder conde. The work is still in progress, but he plans to turn the crater into a massive maked-eye observatory. He has continued creating light installations for gallery spaces across the world, making him a leader in the Light and Space Movement.

In an interview from 2014, Turrell explained that his goal is to use light, not as a way to illuminate other objects as it is typically used, but instead to explore light as a thing itself, recognizing that light has the ability to affect the emotions and to create metaphysical experiences. Influenced by his background in psychology and mathematics, his work is an investigation into the phenomenon of light and the senses, aiming to change the way viewers preceive the world around them.

Turrell has been the recipient of a multitude of awards for his work, including a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1974, National Endowment for the Arts in 1975, MacArthue Foundation Fellowship in 1984, Governor's Arts Award of Artist of the Year in Arizona in 1997, Belgium Academy of Arts and Letters in 2011, and Honorary Doctorates from Haverford College in 2004 and Pratt in 2015. His wrok has been on view across the world. Turrell is in the public collectins of the Tate Modern, London; Mattress Factory, Pittsburg; Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; the Hansol Museum, Italy; Chichu Art Museum, Japan.

(Source: under review)

Artist Objects
Aten Reign


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