James Turrell: The Elliptical Glass

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Open: noon-6pm Tue-Fri, 11am-4pm Sat

Stampfenbachstrasse 59, 8006, Zürich, Switzerland
Open: noon-6pm Tue-Fri, 11am-4pm Sat


James Turrell: The Elliptical Glass

James Turrell: The Elliptical Glass
to Sat 24 Mar 2018
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»Light became the space building material.« James Turrell

Häusler Contemporary Zürich presents for the first time James Turrell’s new light work «Elliptical Glass» along with historical projections from 1968.


With these two groups of works that embrace fifty years of the artist’s oeuvre, it becomes clear how skillfull he uses light as a material to show vision itself.

James Turrell (* 1943, Los Angeles, lives in Flagstaff, US) is considered one of the most important international artists of our time. His entire oeuvre is dedicated to dealing with natural and artificial light and its spatial manifestations. Like no other artist, he moves people from very different cultural backgrounds.

The gallery presents the latest and earliest results of James Turrell’s artistic approach in Zurich with a spatial light work and projections.

«Elliptical Glass», an atmospheric architectural intervention, which also works in everyday spatial conditions, appears as an oval, colored luminous plane in the wall – at once seemingly dense and permeable. In a course precisely programmed by the artist, the colorfulness of the lighting slowly changes from the center. This subtle dynamic creates a captivating effect on the viewer’s eye, which soon loses itself between a seemingly infinite depth and the unfathomable planarity. As in James Turrell’s highly acclaimed, expansive installations, the usual understanding of light and space is put to test and the observer is led to the borderlines of perception.

In parallel, as an early example of his work the gallery shows selected historical projections which James Turrell developed in the mid-1960s at the Mendota Hotel and which could not be seen in Switzerland for a long time. The artist hired the hotel building in Santa Monica (US) as a studio from 1966 to 1968 and began experimenting with darkened rooms and controlled lighting. In this early investigations, Turrell laid the foundation for his entire, future oeuvre by appropriating light as a malleable material, as he says. The legendary projections such as «Carn Green» or «Sloan Red» (both 1968) were created, in which light manifests itself as a radiant, geometric body in space.

The exhibition spans over fifty years of James Turrell’s work, from the beginning to the present. It visualizes how the artist succeeds in revealing something «ordinary» – the light – as a breathtaking phenomenon that provides insights into one’s own perception.
Deborah Keller, Häusler Contemporary

James Turrell has had an unparalleled international exhibition history since 1967 and has also realized projects in public space worldwide. In 2013, LACMA in Los Angeles, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the Salomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York set up three landmark museum shows for the Master of Light. Various retrospective presentations in Switzerland and Germany are currently being planned.
Almost all of the globally important institutions and collections own works by James Turrell, to name just a few: the MoMA in New York, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and the Center for International Light Art in Unna. Numerous art and architecture awards have been added to Turrell’s biography, including the National Medal of Arts, presented in 2013 by President Barack Obama.

James Turrell, »Elliptical Glass«, 2017 | LED, steel, glass, corian | 120 x 76 cm

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