- On view through May 1, 2025
- MASS MoCA
Reservations are required for James Turrell’s Perfectly Clear and Hind Sight; there is no additional charge, but advanced reservations are required. Reservations are not required to view the other works on view in the exhibition.
In James Turrell’s hands, light is more than simply a source of illumination: it is a discrete, physical object. His sculptures and architectural interventions elevate our experience and perception of light and space. Squares of sky seem to float, suspended, in ceilings or walls; architecture disintegrates; and brilliant geometric shapes levitate in midair. Turrell began using light as a sculptural medium in 1966, painting the windows of his studio in Santa Monica to seal off the natural light and experimenting with projections. His practice has been shaped by the ongoing manipulation of architecture, framing and altering the way viewers engage with the environment. A pioneer in the Southern California Light and Space movement, MASS MoCA presents a multi-decade retrospective of Turrell’s work in B6: The Robert W. Wilson Building — with galleries designed and constructed specially to best accentuate his installations. C.A.V.U. is now open, joining Into the Light and making MASS MoCA the only North American institution offering a comprehensive overview of James Turrell’s career.
James Turrell’s installation Perfectly Clear (Ganzfeld)—pictured above—is one of a series of works that uses light effects to draw our attention to the way we perceive our surroundings and, ultimately, to recognize the uncertainty of perception. Throughout the 10-15 minute experience, a bath of changing color fills the room, punctuated by periodic bursts of strobing light. As the light changes, viewers watch the boundaries of the space disappear before their eyes as if the room has been shrouded in a cloud of mist. Ganzfeld is a German term that describes a uniform or “whole field” which produces a loss of depth perception. This phenomenon can in turn produce an array of effects in the brain. Like all of Turrell’s work, Perfectly Clear creates conditions that allows viewers to see themselves seeing. Make reservations to experience Perfectly Clear (Ganzfeld).
Hind Sight, one of James Turrell’s “dark spaces,” is designed to be experienced by two visitors, who make their way through a darkened hall to an enclosed space with two chairs and seemingly no discernible light. The experience lasts 15 minutes, just long enough for the rods in the eye to begin adapting to the darkness. Like all of Turrell’s works, Hind Sight helps us pay close attention to the experience of seeing. Make reservations to experience Hind Sight.
James Turrell’s C.A.V.U. (Skyspace) is open during museum hours with no reservations required. Reservations are required to experience C.A.V.U. at dawn or dusk, learn more here.
Timelapse of Ganzfeld construction, National Gallery of Australia, April 2015
‘It’s Not About Light—It Is Light’, ArtNews, September 2013
The Mind-Bending Science Of James Turrell’s Art, Popular Science, September 2013
The Quaker Meaning of Light (and James Turrell’s work), Helen Meads, 2014
Map of Turrell Skyspaces
You can download a PDF of the exhibition guide here.
Principal exhibition support is provided by The Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust, Elisabeth Roche Wilmers and Robert Wilmers, and Ann and Graham Gund. Major exhibition support is provided by Scott and Ellen Hand, The Henry Luce Foundation, George and Lizbeth Krupp, the Francis Greenburger Charitable Fund of the Jewish Communal Fund, George W. Ahl III, Goldman Sachs Gives at the request of R. Martin Chavez, and Hansjörg Wyss. Contributing exhibition support is provided by The Rosenkranz Foundation, Julie and David Tobey, and The Linbeck Group, LLC.
Breathing Light, 2013
LED Light into space, dimensions variable
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
photo by Florian Holzherr
© James Turrell