James Turrell (b. 1943, California) is a leading figure of the Light and Space movement. His practice spans multiple mediums, including sculpture, large-scale installation, and print. Employing his scientific understanding of light and perspective, Turrell creates colorful optical illusions. Discussing his practice, Turrell shares, “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.”

Turrell holds a BA from Pomona College and an MA from Claremont Graduate School. The artist has been celebrated throughout his career, including with a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1974, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1984 and the National Medal of Arts in 2013. Turrell’s work is collected by institutions around the world, notably the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), National Gallery of Australia and Israel Museum. Since the 1970s, Turrell has been working on the celestial light observatory Roden Crater near Flagstaff, Arizona.

related works

  • Turrell’s partner, Kyung Lim-Lee, captures the subtleties of light and atmosphere in her ambient painted works of abstract spherical bodies. View her work.
  • Environmental artist Olafur Eliasson creates large-scale installation works that boldly involve the audience and persuade them to reimagine the world. View his work.