James Turrell retrospective opens at MFAH June 9

Retrospective also shines light on Turrell’s ‘Twilight Epiphany’ Skyspace at Rice

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), is presenting “James Turrell: The Light Inside,” one of three simultaneous and complementary exhibitions devoted to the acclaimed American artist’s work, June 9 through Sept. 22. A range of images of Turrell’s “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace at Rice are featured in the exhibition catalog.

James Turrell

Since the mid-1960s, Turrell has employed the medium of light to create site-sensitive installations and monumental environmental projects. The exhibition is presented by the MFAH in conjunction with related exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

This presentation, filling the museum’s 22,000-square-foot Brown Pavilion, makes many of Turrell’s installations accessible to the public for the first time. Featured are seven immersive light environments, ranging from Turrell’s first projections of the late 1960s to his most recent Tall Glass series of 2010-13, as well as three print portfolios and site plans relating to his Roden Crater earthwork in progress. The conceptual core of the exhibition is “The Light Inside,” which is permanently installed at the MFAH in the underground Wilson Tunnel.

The exhibit’s curator, Alison de Lima Greene, MFAH curator of contemporary art and special projects, said the Wilson Tunnel installation is “a passage and a destination” that provides a metaphor for understanding the essence of a retrospective. At a June 7 media preview of the exhibit, Greene discussed what an artist’s retrospective is. “Is it looking back only?” she asked. “I don’t think so. I think it, too, is a passage and a destination, one that opens up new possibilities for every visitor.”

Houston is home to two notable Turrell skyspaces, which address the changing light and conditions of the sky: In addition to “Twilight Epiphany” at Rice’s Suzanne Deal Booth Centennial Pavilion, created in 2012, Houston has the Live Oaks Friends Meeting House, created in 2001. Over the past four decades, Turrell has realized skyspaces in 25 countries. The skyspace at Rice is his 73rd and one of the artist’s largest to date.

Turrell's “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace at Rice opened to the public June 14, 2012.

“The Booth Pavilion has provided us with an invaluable opportunity to continue strengthening our relationship with the MFAH,” said Rice University Art Director Molly Hubbard. “We have enjoyed working collaboratively with the museum to make our skyspace accessible to patrons of the retrospective. We look forward to welcoming thousands of visitors to Rice, by way of Turrell, throughout the summer.”

For more information about the MFAH exhibit, visit www.mfah.org/exhibitions/james-turrell-retrospective. The museum recommends making a free reservation at the exhibit webpage.

To view a MFAH video about the exhibit, which includes pictures of “Twilight Epiphany,” see http://vimeo.com/67600428. For more information about “Twilight Epiphany” and to view a Rice News video about the installation, see http://skyspace.rice.edu and www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrD5ylEn1wQ.

About Jeff Falk