|Skyspace Installation at Pomona College, CA. Courtesy Rice University|
“The Skyspace created by James Turrell is one of the most important acquisitions in the Ringling Museum’s history,” said Steven High, executive director of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. “It changes all of your notions of the museum experience, placing you in what feels like your own private world. In today’s digital age, where we are bombarded with emails, tweets, photos and Facebook messages, James Turrell’s Skyspace transports us to a contemplative place where we feel a deepened connection to the very essence of our being and the environment.”
Sitting on precisely angled benches constructed of reclaimed cypress, the viewer’s attention is subtly lifted to the 24 foot square aperture in the center of the canopy. So precise is the ‘razor edge’ of the aperture that the sky overhead becomes, in Turrell’s words a, “plane in the sky.” Through the use of LED, synchronized with the changing seasons, James Turrell is able to manipulate the viewer’s optical response to the sky as seen through the aperture. At dawn or dusk, a program of changing colored light, bathing the interior of the space, shifts the viewer’s perception of the sky from space, to void, to “solid” as the artist “changes” the color of the sky. The Skyspace seats 56 people and also includes creeping jasmine and fig so that over time it will become a lush, tropical environment mirroring its Florida locale.
“It is symbolic that as 2011 comes to a close, the 100 year anniversary of John and Mable purchasing property on what are today the grounds of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, that their Museum houses the work of one of the leading artists of the 21st century, to be enjoyed and studied by this and future generations,” added High.
Born in Los Angeles, James Turrell is one of the most influential contemporary artists at work today. James Turrell was born in 1943 in Los Angeles. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in experimental psychology at Pomona College at Claremont, California in 1965, followed by a Master’s degree in Art from Claremont Graduate School in 1973. His work is represented in numerous public collections, including the Tate Modern, London; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and the Israel Museum Jerusalem. The James Turrell Museum opened in Colomé, Argentina in 2009. His solo exhibitions include Stedlijk Museum (1976); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1980); Israel Museum (1982); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1984); MAK, Vienna (1998-1999); Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh (2002-2003); and “The Wolfsburg Project” (2009-2010), Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany. The concept of Skyspaces is closely connected to the creation of the Roden Crater Project in the Arizona desert. Since 1974, Turrell has been converting the Roden Crater – an extinct volcano on the edge of the Painted Desert, near Flagstaff, where Turrell has lived since 1979 – into an observatory. Visitors, students and faculty are invited to browse books about James Turrell’s work in The Ringling Museum of Art Library, located in the Johnson-Blalock Education Center on the Ringling estate.
The Skyspace is the foundation for the Ringling’s Art of Our Time initiative, which reflects the Museum’s efforts to promote understanding of and appreciation for the contemporary visual and performing arts by showcasing works from artists, such as James Turrell, that are profoundly influencing our culture. The Skyspace was made possible through the generous support of Peter and Pam Vogt, Dick and Betty Nimtz and Bev Koski and her late husband Bob Koski.