Color with James Turrell

March 15, 2022

The beckoning of spring in Manhattan is something out of a fairytale. Birds sing the hours away, and flowers bulge from their spiraled shells like rubber bands ready to snap. After a long winter of grey and bluish hues, color has returned to the concrete jungle.

Though spring is here, many find themselves inside, working the hours away. Behind a set of delicate keys, they tap away. Sending emails with little pizazz and drinking coffee that went cold hours ago. This weird little world turns many to social media for a mid-day entertainment tune-up.

That’s where I found myself today.

An Instagram post from Kanye West is sure to bring an abstract expression to my day, so I start there. But his post was out of the ordinary. It was about his creative muse, James Turrell.

After one Google search, I quickly bore witness to his life’s work. To say the least, I was hooked by James’ obsession with depth and color. I had to see it for myself.

As serendipity would have it, James Turrell, the Godfather of Light, had curated an adaptation of color right here in Manhattan. Centered in the Pace Gallery, James Turrell created a personal concept titled “After Effect” along with a curated collection of his idol’s work, Michael Reinhardt. The museum is located right next to my office (only in Manhattan…) so I quickly gather my things and dash across the street.

Pace Gallary

Through ceiling-high doors, I step foot into the gallery with a sense of wonderment. A quick greeting from the front desk, and I’m off. Poised to witness Turrell’s greatness for myself, I head upstairs to explore his take on Michael Reinhardt’s famed works.

A black square in the center of the room is all but ordinary. Behind the first layer of my gaze, I begin to see a blend of colors coming together to project a vision of darkness. After 5 minutes, this painting is everything but a black square. It’s a revelation.

Color Out of Darkness (1956)

I descend downstairs and find a line that would easily take me an hour. It’s worth it, but I have emails to write before the end of the day. I make plans to come back early the next day.

A quick rest and I’m back on my feet. Moving quickly towards the Pace Gallery. It opens at 10 am, and I am there at 10:01. I walk right into the exhibit.

Through a pitch-black hallway that twists and turns… I find a masterpiece Turrell refers to as a “Wedgework”. His use of projected light turns the room into a holographic maze. Staring straight into a flat wall, I am convinced the room’s depth has expanded by miles. He brings me into another dimension. He has redefined the meaning of the word “space”.

KEY LIME (1994)

By now, I can see the brilliance in Turrell’s vision. His curiosity for angles and color only expands my infatuation with his keen eye. From what started as a random Instagram post from Kanye, I found an artist that speaks directly to my optical soul. Talk about influencer marketing…

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