James Turrell


With an atmosphere that was equal parts chapel and fun house, an exhibition of recent works by James Turrell demonstrated not only the obvious achievements but also the nagging limitations of the artist’s practice. Seventeen pieces from the last several years represented two primary impulses pursued by Turrell across his distinguished career-long engagement with light: deploying it, on the one hand, as a paradoxically material presence designed to draw our perceptual attention outward, toward the spectral volumetric “objects” it creates, and, on the other, as a dematerialized emanation designed to turn viewers’ psychic attention inward by altering their experience of the larger physical environment. Though the two approaches are to some extent interdependent in all of Turrell’s work, with this current selection, the former mode’s tendency—especially in the aggregate—toward a brand of trompe

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