The Light Rooms of James Turrell

By Alexandra Führ Benlifer | 2013/06/30 - 14:36:23

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A selected crowd of the important and beautiful in the New York art world gathered at the Guggenheim Museum last week, to be the first to see the long awaited exhibition by artist James Turrell.

The work "Aten Reign" makes up the core of this spectacular exhibit and transforms the iconic rotunda of the Guggenheim into a giant site specific installation. The work is a kind of re-imagination of Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture, the spiraling shell that has become one of NY York City's most recognized landmarks.

A 79 foot tower of light hangs from the ceiling in the atrium, its bottom edge about 10 feet off the floor. Visitors can walk beneath it and look up into a series of concentric circles, illuminated by a soft light that subtly shifts color. The changing colors are like a pulse, hypnotizing the viewer with its rhythmic changes in hue.

It is an exploration of space, light, color and perception that is meant to be experienced rather than seen. It is hard to describe this installation because to really appreciate its effect, you have to be immersed in it with your own body.

Turrell makes use of the Ganzfeld effect, meaning “complete field” in German, which occurs when the entire field of vision is filled with a single uniform stimulus. The effect of staring into “Aten Reign” and seeing nothing but color is absolutely mesmerizing.

No matter how often you've been to the Guggenheim, Turrell's work will let you experience the space in a completely new way. 
James Turrell light art installations
James Turrell/Guggenheim Museum
James Turrell violet light art installations
James Turrell/Guggenheim Museum
James Turrell blue light art installations
James Turrell/Guggenheim Museum
James Turrell red light art installations
James Turrell/Guggenheim Museum



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