James Turrell

In the 1960s, inspired by the bright sunlight of the California coast, artists like James Turrell, Lita Albuquerque and John McCracken found their way to the atmospherically inspired Light and Space minimalism. In the understanding of these artists, the overall “situation” – including the surrounding space, the landscape and the bodies of the viewers themselves – was an integral part of their art. Instead of art objects, they worked with the principles of how light and space are perceived. Turrell’s radical approach of equating nothingness with an image was an attempt to eliminate the necessity of a physical artwork, creating purely aesthetic objects whose bodies consist of immaterial light. In the series Cross-Corner-Projections, which also includes the work Joecar, geometric forms appear to float like solid bodies in front of darkened walls. From the ideal viewing perspective, their hypothetical shape protrudes into space like a three-dimensional body. In the series First Light, Turrell recreates these experiences in two dimensions using an aquatint etching technique. Here too, an image is created out of the contrasts between being and nothingness. What is perceived as a geometric form on the etchings is actually the absence of any mechanical processing of the etching plate and ink. The chromatic reality of the white light and the bright paper manifests as a dualism without duality between the seemingly present body and the actual void.

Ulrike Pennewitz


In the exhibition:

James Turrell
Joecar (White), 1967
Xenon light projection
Collection Michalke


Additional information about the artist