James Turrell

Biography of James Turrell

Award-winning American artist James Turrell is one of the most exciting artists of our time. Turrell (b. 1943) studied perceptual psychology, and his interest in the field led him to a career of art-making in which physical presence is probed and explored through the manipulation of our perceptions of light and space.


He creates unexpected fully immersive spaces and floods them with light in such a way as to completely alter our understanding of where we are and what we are looking at. Entering one of James Turrell’s famous “ganzfeld” rooms, which have been exhibited across the globe, is a completely disorienting experience, in which even one’s understanding of gravity and vision is called into question over and over again. The light, his primary material, often changes as we experience an artwork, further challenging our sense of presence and our trust in what we see.


Alongside James Turrell’s complex, and mostly temporary, installations, he creates editions on paper as vital physical testaments and further developments to his explorations. By working in 2D, he is able to question perceptions of depth, space and form in different ways. His Aten Reign installation at the Guggenheim in New York was accompanied by a series of aquatint prints that remain as the only physical memories, and capture, on each sheet of paper, the diverse ways we can view and understand what we see in front of us.


James Turrell has received several great honors and awards in his lifetime, amongst them the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in France, the Guggenheim Fellowship and the USA’s National Medal of Arts. He has had solo exhibitions at institutions across the globe, including the Haus Konstruktiv in Zurich, the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the LACMA in LA, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Guggenheim in NYC.

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