Guggenheim Conversations: Michael Govan Discusses Light and Space with James Turrell

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On the occasion of ‘s new site-specific installation at the Guggenheim, the American artist joined Michael Govan, Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and co-curator of James Turrell: A Retrospective, in conversation about the different aspects of the artist’s singular oeuvre on view in three concurrent exhibitions in Houston, Los Angeles, and New York.

James Turrell Transforms the Guggenheim

Aten Reign, 2013 / ; Photo: David Heald © Solomon R. Foundation, New York

With one of his largest installations to date, American artist James Turrell has transformed the rotunda of Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Guggenheim Museum into a mesmerizing Skyspace. Shifting between natural and artificial light, Aten ReignJames Turrells main attraction – illuminates the central void with a brightly colored, banded pattern that imitates the museum’s famous ramps. This presents a dynamic perceptual experience in which the materiality of light is exposed.

More images after the break. 

Light Matters: Seeing the Light with James Turrell

James Turrell: Roden Crater, East Portal. 2010. Photograph by Florian Holzherr, www.architekturfoto.net

Light matters, a monthly column on light and space, is written by Thomas Schielke. Based in Germany, he is fascinated by architectural lighting, has published numerous articles and co-authored the book „Light Perspectives“. 

From early nocturnal studies in a lonely hotel room to transforming a volcano in the world’s biggest landscape art project to, most recently, lighting up the Guggenheim in New York, the American artist James Turrell is driven by  his fascination with light. He explores perception for visual experiences where light is not a tool to enable vision but rather something to look at itself.

More Light Matters, after the break…

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Rotunda to be Transformed into Turrell Skyspace

James Turrell: Rendering for Aten Reign, 2013, Daylight and LED light, Site-specific installation, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, © James Turrell, Rendering: Andreas Tjeldflaat, 2012 © SRGF

With his first in a New York museum since 1980, James Turrell will dramatically transform the sinuous curves of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum into one of the largest Skyspaces he has ever mounted. Opening on summer solstice, June 21, 2013, the temporary installation Aten Reign will give form museum’s central void by creating what Turrell has described as “an architecture of space created with light.”

James Turrell’s “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace opens today at Rice University

James Turrell “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace – Courtesy of

The highly anticipated “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace, designed by American artist James Turrell, will open to the public today with a sunset light show. The abstract pyramidal structure complements the natural light present at sunrise and sunset, creating a mesmerizing light show that connects the beauty of the natural world with the surrounding campus. This experience is enhanced by an LED light performance that projects onto the 72-by-72-foot thin white roof, which offers views to the sky through a 14-by-14-foot opening. Additionally, the Turrell Skyspace is acoustically engineered for musical performances and serves as a laboratory for music school students, as it stands adjacent to the Shepher School of Music on the Rice University campus in Houston, .

David Leebron, Rice University President: “The campus has to play its role in inspiring our students.”

Continue after the break to watch a sneak preview of the Turrell Skyspace light show.

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts Renovation / John Douglas Architects

© John Douglas Architects

Architect: John Douglas Architects
Location: , Arizona
Project Year: 2009
Client: City of Scottsdale
Contractor: Howard S. Wright Construction
Structural Engineer: PK & Associates
MP Engineer: ESD Engineering
Theater Consultant: Fisher Dachs
Acoustics Consultant: MCH Consultants
Consultants: Roger Smith
Photography: John Douglas Architects