James Turrell Exhibit Opens Friday at the Guggenheim

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Thursday, June 20, 2013
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Aten Reign, James Turrell's largest museum installation ever, fills the rotunda of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. (David Held/Courtesy Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Aten Reign, James Turrell’s largest museum installation ever, fills the rotunda of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. (David Held/Courtesy Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Tomorrow, June 21, is the summer solstice. On the occasion, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will open the doors on a major solo show of the work of James Turrell, called simply James Turrell. It’s a fitting day to open an exhibition on the American artist. Since the 1960s, Turrell has developed a diverse body of work that uses light as material and medium. The centerpiece of the show is Aten Reign, a site-specific installation that fills Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous rotunda. Made from a series of interlocking fabric cones that relate to the Guggenheim’s interior ramps, Aten Reign interlaces the prevailing daylight with subtly changing color fields produced by concealed LED fixtures. Viewed from below, on reclining benches or lying flat on the floor, with the gentle bubbling of the Guggenheim’s fountain providing aural accompaniment, the installation provides a meditative, perception altering experience.

Aten Reign's colors shift from white, to orange, to magenta, to purple, to blue, not necessarily in that order. (David Held/Courtesy Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Aten Reign‘s colors shift from white, to orange, to magenta, to purple, to blue, not necessarily in that order. (David Held/Courtesy Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

In addition to Aten Reign, the exhibition features several of Turrell’s older works that focus on light and perception. Afrum I (White) (1967) presents viewers with a glowing white cube that, upon closer inspection, reveals itself to be simply two intersecting planes. The Single Wall Projection Pado (White) (1967) turns a section of wall into what appears to be a luminous opening to another realm. Litar, one of Turrell’s Space Division Constructions, troubles the viewer with a rectangle of uncertain description. Is it a flat panel of color? A foggy void? Or an opening into another chamber?

James Turrell runs from June 21, 2013 until September 25, 2013.

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