Michael Govan
Christine Y. Kim et al.
LACMA/Prestel, Los Angles, CA, New York, 2013, English
Nonfiction, Art and Cultural History; Nonfiction, Architecture
9.6 x 11.8 inches, hardcover, 304 pages, 250 color illustrations
ISBN: 9783791352633
Suggested Retail Price: $75.00

From the Publisher. Published in conjunction with a major retrospective, this comprehensive volume illuminates the origins and motivations of James Turrell’s incredibly diverse and exciting body of work—from his Mendota studio days to his monumental work-in-progress Roden Crater.

Whether he’s projecting shapes on a flat wall or into the corner of a gallery space, James Turrell is perpetually asking us to “go inside and greet the light”—evoking his Quaker upbringing. In fact, all of Turrell’s work has been influenced by his life experiences with aviation, science, and psychology, and as a key player in Los Angeles’ exploding art scene of the 1960's. Enhanced by thoughtful essays and an illuminating interview with the artist, this monograph explores every aspect of Turrell’s career to date—from his early geometric light projections, prints, and drawings, through his installations exploring sensory deprivation and seemingly unmodulated fields of colored light, to recent two-dimensional experiments with holograms. It also features an in-depth look at Roden Crater, a site-specific intervention into the landscape near Flagstaff, Arizona, which will be presented through models, plans, photographs, and drawings. Fans of this highly influential artist will find much to savor in this wide-ranging and beautiful book, featuring specially commissioned new photography by Florian Holzherr.

A Designers & Books Notable Design Book of 2013
On 1 book list
John Hill

Artist James Turrell is being given the superstar treatment in 2013 with three major exhibitions on the coasts and in the middle of the United States: “James Turrell: A Retrospective” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), “James Turrell” at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and “James Turrell: The Light Inside” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. To accompany the first, LACMA has created an impressive catalogue that charts the artist's five-decade-long career and beautifully documents his skyspaces” and other architectural constructions, most notably the ongoing Roden Crater project in Arizona.

Space is a loaded term for architects, since their designs define the extents, flow, and character of the spaces that people inhabit. For Turrell, space is as important, but in a different way. He admits to being involved with the architecture of space and the creation of form, but says, “When I prepare walls I make them so perfect that you actually don’t pay attention to them.” People in his installations and skyspaces are therefore drawn to the color of the light and the sky. For Turrell, light is his material and perception is his medium, so space is where the two converge.

Architects and other designers can learn a lot from Turrell’s poetic and quiet manipulations of light, color, and space. The former should also appreciate the occasional architectural drawings found in the book. Like a magician’s secrets, they reveal what is hidden and what enables the spaces to be perceived in certain ways, while also illustrating how they are physical constructions that rely on particularly complex details.

Not surprisingly, Turrell’s installations and skyspaces are best experienced firsthand. They can be discussed and documented, as they are in this book, but that is hardly a substitute for the tangible effects that happen when sensing one of his works, ideally for long durations. That said, kudos should go to Florian Holzherr, whose large color photos grace most pages of the book and help to make it such a remarkable document of an artist worth all the attention.

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