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ALL OF THE LIGHTS - James Turrell in Houston, Texas

Artwork: The Light Inside

Artist: James Turrell

Year: 1999

Medium: Neon and ambient Light

Location: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Commissioned by the Museum.

James Turrell is an American installation artist whose main interests lie in investigating the effects light and space have on the power of human perception. The Light Inside (1999), pictured above, is a corridor that connects the two gallery buildings of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas and was commissioned by the museum for the opening of the second gallery space which opened to the public in mid 2000. Visitors queue to move along Turrell’s light installation giving them the impression they are floating through a causeway of light which gradually shifts between magenta, blue and crimson. The installation's purpose is to allow viewers to become lost within the light as they gradually move from one gallery to the next. This work is part of the artist’s tunnel series.

In this work, Turrell has created what he calls an architecture of space - structures which are developed to erase themselves and allow you to focus on the space between the walls and the structure, as well as experience the materiality of the light and air which fills the space.

On his art, Turrell states –

“My work has no object, no image and no focus. 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.”

Turrell is an artist associated with the light and space movement which began in Southern California in the 1960s however, unlike his contemporaries who made paintings and sculptures which housed light in some way, Turrell is interested in the materiality of light as a medium and its function on human perception. Turrell’s work is a response to what the artist describes as the ‘lack of time commitment’ people have when engaging with a work of contemporary art.

With Turrell’s work, you have to allow yourself time to engage with it and by allowing this, the artist states his reward for your time is an experience on your perception of the world.

You can follow Turrell on Instagram here: @jamesturell

JM June 2020

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