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James Turrell

How one of the most innovative artist of the last century uses

light as his only medium?

How one of the most innovative artist of the last century useslight as his only medium?

James Turrell is an innovative american artist, born in Los Angeles, California, he started experimenting with art in the ‘60s, focusing on light since the beginning of his career, during a time when the Light and Space movement was gaining momentum in Southern California. He innovated photographic techniques, allowing the light to not only shine, but have a physical presence, in this way, the light become the subject of the work, and not just the medium, in his own words ”My work has no object, no image, and no focus. With no object, no image, and no focus, what are you looking at? You are looking at you looking. What is important to me is to create an experience of wordless thought“.

James Turrell is an innovative american artist, born in Los Angeles, California, he started experimenting with art in the ‘60s, focusing on light since the beginning of his career, during a time when the Light and Space movement was gaining momentum in Southern California.

This experience of wordless thought is what characterise its works, and the experience is so powerful and moving that many were able to compare it only to a religious experience, while many critics describe his works as “dull to describe but magical to experience”. These lights help breaking the boundaries of the physical, his installations in fact, even if created only with lights, are full of shapes that appear to have mass, from cubes to pyramids and tunnels.A part from his work on light projections and installations, he devoted most of his life to his still-unfinished Roden Crater, a massive complex of tunnels and viewing spaces, inside an extinct volcano in Arizona, which he started working on in the ‘70s, with the goal of transforming the crater in a massive observatory.

He innovated photographic techniques, allowing the light to not only shine, but have a physical presence, in this way, the light become the subject of the work, and not just the medium, in his own words ”My work has no object, no image, and no focus. With no object, no image, and no focus, what are you looking at? You are looking at you looking. What is important to me is to create an experience of wordless thought. “

His work has influenced many people, from the “Hotline Bling” video by Drake, that takes from Turrell the use of lights to change and create new settings, to Kanye West, who collaborated with Turrell in many occasions, from helping financing the Roden Crater project, to shooting there his “Jesus is King” movie, Kanye also praised James Turrell as one of the greatest artists alive.

This experience of wordless thought is what characterise its works, and the experience is so powerful and moving that many were able to compare it only to a religious experience, while many critics describe his works as “dull to describe but magical to experience”. These lights help breaking the boundaries of the physical, his installations in fact, even if created only with lights, are full of shapes that appear to have mass, from cubes to pyramids and tunnels.

A part from his work on light projections and installations, he devoted most of his life to his still-unfinished Roden Crater, a massive complex of tunnels and viewing spaces, inside an extinct volcano in Arizona, which he started working on in the ‘70s, with the goal of transforming the crater in a massive observatory.