New Light, 1989
James Turrell's work is solely concerned with the experience of light and space. New Light is a “space division” or “aperture” piece in which Turrell isolates light from its normal function in the world—illuminating other things—and presents it in a pure state. Like most of Turrell’s works, New Light requires sufficient time for our eyes to adjust to the darkness of the room. As we approach the piece, we discover that it is not a projection or a panel hung on the wall, but rather an opening onto a separate, light-filled space. Over time, we develop a fuller experience of the light.
Born in 1943 in Los Angeles, James Turrell studied experimental psychology and mathematics at Pomona College and earned an MFA in fine arts at Claremont Graduate University. He had his first solo exhibition at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1967.
Like many artists working in the 1960s, Turrell abandoned conventional painting and sculpture for new media and an expanded definition of art. His installations are based on the pure experience of artificial and natural light, and they range from single rooms to the vast Roden Crater project in Arizona. This work has established him as an original and visionary artist.