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The 10 best books on architecture that are always worth coming back to. NArchitekTURA recommends

22 of May '20

6. "James Turrell. Extraordinary Ideas - Realized"

Authors: James Turrell, Lorraine Wild, Florian Holzherr
Publisher: Hatje Cantz
Berlin 2018

James Turrell,
Lorraine Wild, Florian Holzherr „James Turrell. Extraordinary Ideas — Realized”

This monograph by one of the most important contemporary American artists is a literary and graphic ode to light and color. Light has fascinated James Turrell since his childhood, which he spent in the western United States in a Quaker religious community. Even then, he was fascinated by astronomy - in his youth, he even pecked at the blinds in his own bedroom with a needle, trying to imitate the stellar constellations.

Many years later, in 1966, having already completed his studies in psychology, mathematics and art history, Turrell began creating a series of spatial installations under the common name Skyspaces, dedicated to contemplation and observation of the sky. He continues to create them to this day, and so far dozens have been created around the world.

James Turrell's work is combined with conceptual art and the directions of minimal art, process art and land art. Most of the artist's works are created in specially designed rooms, sometimes new buildings are constructed for their purpose. In their interiors, the artist explores and emphasizes the relationship between space and light - natural, but also artificial (usually fluently changing its hue and color). Undoubtedly, Turrell's most important work is the "Roden Crater" project, carried out since 1974 in the Arizona desert. The artist became interested in the extinct volcano back in the 1960s, when he worked as an airplane pilot for a local coal company. At the time, he began sketching and archiving ideas for developing this vast space formed almost four hundred thousand years ago. In 1979 Turrell bought the land around the volcano and began to realize spot installations related to the changes of the seasons. The artist's interventions are based mainly on structures hollowed out in the volcano's interior, with precisely planned openings framing the sky, sun and moon. After many years, there are chances of completing the monumental work, mainly thanks to the financial involvement in the project of the rapper - Kanye West, who also documented his own concert at the site as part of the "Jesus is King" film.

The monograph "James Turrell. Extraordinary Ideas - Realized" was designed in close collaboration between James Turrell, graphic designer and writer - Lorraine Wild, and photographer - Florian Holzherr, and has a rather unusual composition. Every second page is glued along the vertical edge, which means that in addition to the spreads filled with text and photos, the same amount of space is taken up by monochrome images, visible only from the top and bottom. Thus, we are dealing as if with two books in one. The first is an interesting, correctly assembled story about Turrell's successive projects, and the second, somewhat hidden, is an attempt to translate his multicolored light installations into the language of graphics.


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