NGA announces James Turrell: A Retrospective

James TurrellThe National Gallery of Australia has announced that James Turrell: A Retrospective is the summer blockbuster for 2014-15. This extraordinary exhibition includes mesmerising installations using light, and demonstrates why James Turrell is one of the most important artists working today.

James Turrell’s career spans almost five decades, with 140 solo exhibitions worldwide, and permanent installations in museums and private collections internationally – including one of his most beautiful, Within without 2010, the Skyspace at the National Gallery of Australia.

James Turrell said “I grew up seeing the work of great artists who painted the effects of light, such as Monet and the Hudson River School in America, but I wanted my work to be made of light itself. I am very pleased to bring this survey to Australia.”

“On my first trip to Canberra in 1997, I was impressed with the clarity of light there and the vastness of the southern skies. I think of the Skyspaces all around the world as a continuum, an experience that is continuing at all times, so I am delighted people who come to Within without will also see it in context of my other works, early projection pieces, Wedgeworks, Ganzfelds and others.’

This exhibition is Turrell’s first in Australia, following three highly successful shows in the USA. After a sold-out season at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the highest attended exhibition ever held at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, the National Gallery of Australia’s retrospective combines works from LACMA’s tour with spectacular new, site-specific installations made just for Canberra.

James Turrell: A Retrospective will show several of the artist’s spectacular light works which have made him famous. A classic early projection piece, Afrum (white) 1966, makes the viewer perceive a cube of light floating in space. After green 1993, part of the Wedgework series, plays with perception, persuading us there is a wall where one does not exist.

A Ganzfeld, specially designed for Canberra, is one of Turrell’s largest and most marvellous series to date. Inside, surrounded by light, with no edge or corners in the space, we are uncertain about the depth and form of the space – a feeling akin to walking on clouds.

“This exhibition will give all Australians the opportunity to experience contemporary art at its absolute best,” said Ron Radford AM, Director, National Gallery of Australia.

“When you walk into each of these life-changing, immersive works, you are forced to question what you are actually seeing. The great strength and power of light and colour will be experienced by each visitor and is often pushed to its extreme in the work of James Turrell.”

“The ACT Government is pleased to be supporting the National Gallery of Australia in bringing this ambitious major international exhibition to Canberra,” said ACT Minister for Tourism and Events Andrew Barr MLA.

“Since the Special Event Fund opened in 2011, $2 million in funding has been allocated to support four blockbuster exhibitions at the National Gallery of Australia. These events have attracted nearly 700,000 attendees and delivered approximately $180 million in economic return to the ACT.”

James Turrell: A Retrospective is organised in association with Los Angeles County Museum of Art and opens exclusively at the National Gallery of Australia on Saturday 13 December 2014 and is on display until Monday 8 June 2015. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: James Turrell After green 1993 Wedgework: fluorescent, LED and fibre-optic lights National Gallery of Australia, Canberra © James Turrell