I have always admired the work of American sculptor James Turrell, but I waited in vain for confirmation of that sentiment while viewing his underwhelming current show at the Guggenheim Museum. The exhibition features a large, insipid LED light installation and only a handful of his restrained early works.
Mr. Turrell has transformed the museum’s torqued atrium into a five-tiered, wedding-cake-like light sculpture. Some natural light filters in from the top, but colored LEDs on each tier turn the installation alternately green, mustard yellow, purple, various reds and at least three kinds of blue: minty, glowing cerulean and a flat cornflower. Layers of what look like cheesecloth diffuse the light, giving the installation a beautified-aging-movie-star feel.
Truth be told, James Turrell’s recent appearance on Charlie Rose, to talk about his three-museum retrospective, starts off rather slowly.
In June the Guggenheim Museum will present James Turrell’s first solo museum exhibition in New York since 1980, an ambitious project that will close the museum’s ramps and use its architecture to create a mass of shifting color similar to his Skyscapes. The show will also feature studies and drawings for his magnum opus, Roden Crater (1976–). The show is part of a tripartite retrospective that will occur simultaneously at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
When he was 11, Roger Duffy had his first encounter with art. It was 1966 and he was thumbing through one of those big Time-Life picture books about America at his home in Oakmont, a town on the outskirts of Pittsburgh famous for its golf course of the same name. He came across a picture of a drawing by Diego Rivera hanging in the guest room at Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s wooded retreat 60 miles away. Mr. Duffy asked his father what it was, and Duffy père responded laconically, “It’s art.”
Even today, as one of the most canny combiners of art and architecture, Mr. Duffy, in his reserved way, said he saw no great significance in this awakening. He had come to realize the power of a piece of art, as well as that of its surroundings, even though he did not know it at the time. “I thought of art as magic, and I still do,” he said. “But the two of them together, in that moment, I never really thought of that, now that you mention it. I was just focused on the picture in the picture.”
It would take a few decades for his appreciation of art to develop, and years more for him to incorporate it into his work as a partner at Skidmore Owings & Merrill, but his focus never really wavered. “He may not have known it, but I think this sensitive genius was always there inside him, just waiting to come out,” said Robert Whitman, the renowned multimedia artist and friend and collaborator of Mr. Duffy.
The Juilliard School is in the midst of a series of concerts to mark the centennial of composer John Cage’s birth, an initiative that, a few decades ago, would have been unthinkable, given the controversy surrounding the artist’s radical techniques, according to organizer Joel Sachs. [NYT]
At Sundance, director Matthew Akers sold the rights to his film about Marina Abramović (who is “[s]eductive, fearless, and outrageous,” the news release tells us) in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. [Deadline]
Andrew Berardini reports from the Art Los Angeles Contemporary fair, the opening of Matthew Marks’s L.A. gallery and a bounty of performance events tied to the Getty’s “Pacific Standard Time” initiative. He also quotes James Turrell on his long-delayed Roden Crater: “I swore I was going to open it in the year 2000, and I’ll be damned if I’m not sticking to it.” [Artforum]