Offering a complement and counterpoint to Aten Reign is a selection of Turrell’s early works, some drawn from the museum’s Panza Collection and others on loan. These pieces offer a sample of the artist’s various installation types and link the new project to his work of the 1960s and 1970s. In Afrum I (White) (1967), one of Turrell’s earliest Cross Corner Projections, visitors encounter a glowing cube floating in the corner of a room; what first appears to be a solid object resolves upon closer inspection into simple planes of light. The Single Wall Projection Prado (White) (1967), on the other hand, seems to dematerialize space, dissolving the wall and creating a passage to an unknown space beyond. Alongside these projections, selections from the related etching portfolio First Light (1989–90) explore how the aquatint technique can invoke qualities of radiance. In the Shallow Space Construction Ronin (1968), light emanates from behind a vertical architectural fissure, appearing as a solid plane and dematerializing the darkened wall. Iltar (1976), one of his Space Division Constructions, creates an effect that may be read alternately as a flat panel of color hanging on a wall, a foggy void, or an opening into a separate chamber. These works connect Aten Reign to the artist’s earliest experiments with light and space and offer visitors a variety of perceptual experiences.
About the Artist
Born in Los Angeles in 1943 to a Quaker mother and a father who was a school administrator, James Turrell attended Pomona College, where his studies concentrated on psychology and mathematics. He later received a master's degree in Art from Claremont Graduate School. Turrell’s work has been widely acclaimed and exhibited since his first showing at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1967, which established him as a leader in the nascent Light and Space Movement in Southern California. His work has since been presented at major venues including the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1976); the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1980); the Israel Museum (1982); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1984); MAK, Vienna (1998–99); the Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh (2002–03); and the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany (2009–10); and was included in the 54th Venice Biennale (2011). In addition to the exhibitions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in summer 2013, Turrell’s art is on view in a solo exhibition at the Academy Art Museum, Easton, Maryland. The artist’s work is represented in numerous public collections including the Tate Modern, London; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Turrell has created more than seventy Skyspaces in the Americas, Europe, and Asia, with the first made in 1974 for Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo at his home in Varese, Italy.