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Oklahoma Contemporary
Source: jamesturrell.com
A figure with a white beard and black cowboy hat poses for a photo in front of a prairie mesa on a cloudless day

New Light

Nov. 02, 2020

#ArtistSpotlight: James Turrell

The legendary Bright Golden Haze artist explores the art of perception
A photo depicts an orange holographic disc on display in a darkened art museum
Untitled (1NSA), 2007, on view in Bright Golden Haze. Photo by Alex Marks.

How many ways are there to look at a work of art? This question has animated the practice of Bright Golden Haze artist James Turrell for more than half a century. A trailblazer in the Southern Calfornia art movement known as Light and Space, the internationally celebrated installation artist has built his career exploring the intersection of light, perception and participation.

"My work is more about your seeing than it is about my seeing, although it is a product of my seeing," Turrell writes on his website. "I’m also interested in the sense of presence of space; that is space where you feel a presence, almost an entity — that physical feeling and power that space can give.”

Turrell's background as a pilot and a childhood fascination with light led in part to his deep interest in space and illumination, two themes driving Oklahoma Contemporary's inaugural Bright Golden Haze exhibition. Alongside fellow Light and Space practitioner Robert Irwin and the younger Olafur Eliasson, the trio set the stage for an unforgettable experience that encourages viewers to consider their own role as a sort of participant in the illuminating work on display.

Two figures observe an orange holographic disc on display in a darkened art museum
Visitors contemplate James Turrell's Untitled (1NSA), 2007. Photo by Alex Marks.

“My work has no object, no image and no focus," Turrell's artist statement continues. "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.”

Bright Golden Haze visitors will get the chance to consider their place in this arrangement with Turrell's Untitled (1NSA), 2007. The work is is a hologram, a kind of two-dimensional image which can appear three-dimensional when light hits it in a certain way. “But that light has to be in exactly the right spot. It has to hit at just the right angle and be just the right distance back from it,” Oklahoma Contemporary Exhibits Manager Steve Boyd said.

Before you reserve your spot to safely experience the artist's perception-altering work in person, tag along with art historian Francesca Giani as she explores Turrell's Untitled (1NSA), 2007 along with Irwin's Lucky You, and Eliasson's Black glass eclipse as part of our Thursday Night Late series at Oklahoma Contemporary.


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Bright Golden Haze James Turrell Light and Space Artist Spotlight


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