Critics’ Picks

James Turrell, Juke Green, 1968.

New York

“Invisible Might: Works From 1965–1971”

NYEHAUS
63 Spring Street
May 4–July 14

This exhibition features works made between 1965 and 1971 by six artists (primarily Californian) who used sophisticated equipment and industrial materials to investigate the potential of pure light. The main room hosts an excellent selection of works by Robert Irwin. Light Column, 1970, a transparent, three-pointed, star-shaped column, reflects iridescent shadows along its interior sections; on the wall, Untitled, 1966–67, a wide aluminum circle sprayed with acrylic lacquer, emanates nacreous vibrations, projecting four circular shadows behind itself, as perfect as if they were painted on the wall. In a corner, Fred Sandback’s work outlines three rectangles in string, shaping new space out of thin air. In another room, two cubes, one by Larry Bell and the other by John McCracken, stand as hybrids between slick interior design and mysterious monoliths, while nearby, Craig Kauffman’s work uses industrial materials, such as acrylic, to express unexpected pictorial qualities. Upstairs, James Turrell’s Juke Green, 1968, materializes light into a solid-looking trapezoid, using a cross-corner projection to produce a holographic sculpture. Combining an obsessive attention to detail with a rigorous use of materials and a methodical approach, these artists transform light into an experience, meditating on the medium’s ephemerality. Light, seemingly metaphysical in nature, is deployed on a phenomenological—though still immaterial—level, prompting the viewer to reflect upon the deceptive nature of human sight. Leaving this show is like returning from a space odyssey to a surreal planet Earth.