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For over fifty years, US artist James Turrell (Los Angeles, 1943) has worked directly with light and space to create artworks that attract viewers, questioning them about how vision works. Trained in perceptive psychology, mathematics, art history and fine arts, Turrell is also an expert pilot who has been fascinated by light since his Quaker childhood. He started to experiment with it as a medium and an artistic object in the mid-1960s, in Southern California. Turrell states that he uses light “as a material with which to influence or affect the medium, which is perception” and that, “instead of making something about light I wanted it to be light”. He has an outstanding ability to create environments in which space, movement and light – either natural or artificial – are the creative materials that produce the artistic experience.

In 1976, James Turrell began to work on a group of works he called Space Division Constructions. The rooms are divided into to distinct parts: the “viewing space”, which is the space for the viewer entering the installation, and the “sensing space” from which the light come through’. The two zones interact, creating in the spectator a sensation that is both unsettling and hypnotic. Cherry is part of the “Apertures” series, in which a frame-like window in the dividing wall marks out the two spaces. The spectator needs to stay in a dark space during a few minutes before seeing the light monochrome appearing.

Turrell has devoted a large part of his career to developing series such as his Skyspaces, enclosed spaces that frame a view of the sky, and his unprecedented large-scale masterwork, Roden Crater, a volcanic crater located outside Flagstaff, Arizona that he began in 1974 and which is still in progress. It is a complex engineering project, where one can contemplate light, time and space and observe the geological and celestial cycles. Over the last few decades the artist has combined this still ongoing project with numerous exhibitions at prestigious art galleries and museums, amongst them his recent retrospectives at Museo Jumex in Mexico; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, California; the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. In 1984, Turrell received the prestigious Katherine T. and John D. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. Amongst other awards, he was made a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in France in 1991, won Germany’s Friedrich Prize in 1992 and received the U.S. National Medal of Arts in 2013. James Turrell has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2004.

This work has been presented in Institutions at Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes (France) in 2018 and Song Art Museum in Beijing (China) in 2019.

With the collaboration of Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte (FABA) and Galería Almine Rech

Image: James Turrell. Cherry, 1998. From the Space division series. Courtesy Fundación Almina y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte © 2020 James Turrell

Museo Picasso Málaga

Palacio de Buenavista C/ San Agustín, 8

29015 Málaga, Spain


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