James Turrell: ” I think we’re made for the twilight.”

James Turrell Aten Reign, 2013 Daylight and LED light, dimensions variable © James Turrell Installation view: James Turrell, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, June 21–September 25, 2013 Photo: David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York
James Turrell – Aten Reign, 2013 – Daylight and LED light
Installation at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum through Sept. 25th
Photo: David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

Now it is concave, now it is convex;  ephemeral as mist,  solid as an inflated balloon, and always nothing but color and light reflecting, fluctuating, teasing the brain.  Engaging with the work of James Turrell, the mind does not so much reel as it dances between perceptions, grabbing hold of forms even as they shift in shape and dissolve into light leaving us hovering much of the time in the in-between.

I usually hate it when people slap the word ‘Zen’ on art, but this is one instance where the term might actually be useful, pointing us toward the works’ koan-like effects, whether in the installation that engulfs the Guggenheim’s spiral lobby or in the not-to-be-missed aquatints

James Turrell - "Meeting" (from the portfolio "First Light"), 1989–90 Aquatint, 108 x 75.6 cm Peter Blum Edition, New York © James Turrell Photo: Courtesy Peter Blum Edition, New York
James Turrell – “Meeting” (from the portfolio “First Light”), 1989–90
© James Turrell
Photo: Courtesy Peter Blum Edition, New York

or hard-edged geometric forms made of what feels like tangible, solid light.

James Turrell - Afrum I (White), 1967  Photo: David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York
James Turrell – Afrum I (White), 1967
Photo: David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

One last thing:   Mr. Turrell talks about light’s physicality and the widening of our pupils at twilight.  Makes sense.  Don’t our pupils widen when we see something or someone we desire?  As though by opening them wide enough we can touch with our very sight?

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