Geometric James Turrell Light Works to Exhibit at Frieze L.A. (Exclusive)

James Turrell's "Law of One, Medium Rectangle Glass" - Publicity - P 2020
Courtesy of Pace Gallery

Pace Gallery and Kayne Griffin Corcoran are partnering on a joint show of work by the artist, to whom Kanye West donated $10 million last year to finish the giant Roden Crater project in the Arizona desert.

Pace Gallery and Kayne Griffin Corcoran are joining forces at the upcoming Frieze Los Angeles art fair on the Paramount lot (Feb. 14-16) to show new immersive work by the artist James Turrell. The pieces, which will be shown across the galleries’ adjacent booths on the show floor, have been developed from the artist’s Glass works series, which he began in 2006.

“We asked Skarstedt Gallery if they could swap with us so we adjoin Kayne Griffin Corcoran,” says Pace president and CEO Marc Glimcher. “It’s kind of against the rules of art fairs in general, but it’s not unprecedented. This gives us a very unique opportunity to create an amazing experience at the fair.”

These latest Turrell pieces are light works — approximately four by six feet in various geometric shapes — incorporating a temporal element, with bright combinations of colors shifting slowly over time. “They appear to have a sort of infinite depth or no depth, depending on how you see it,” says Glimcher, adding that the Kayne Griffin Corcoran side “will be devoted to a kind of chamber featuring one of these works on the ceiling.” He says that piece is reminiscent of one of Turrell’s famed Skyspace pieces, which are architectural rooms with an aperture that frames the sky. Adds gallerist Maggie Kayne of Kayne Griffin Corcoran, “Each work is a unique program of light that he is orchestrating. They have their own subtle differences of tempo and contrast. You can think of them like movements in a symphony.”

Turrell’s work has found a major following in the entertainment world. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen recently installed one of his works at their new The Row store in London. Leonardo DiCaprio once called a Perpetual Cell piece by Turrell, which was shown at LACMA, “one of the most existential experiences I’ve ever had as an observer,” while Drake mimicked the artist’s oeuvre in the video for his song “Hotline Bling.” Last year, Kanye West donated $10 million to support the completion of the artist’s monumental Roden Crater project, in which he is transforming a volcanic cylinder in the Northern Arizona desert into a naked-eye observatory. West also filmed his movie Jesus Is King at the site.

Turrell has been working on the crater project since 1977. Last year, it was announced that Arizona State University would partner with Turrell to help complete Roden Crater and raise $200 million, part of which would go toward construction of a visitor center.

Kayne and Glimcher say that, at the Frieze art fair exhibit, the galleries will encourage donations to Friends of Roden Crater. “It’s a really important moment for Roden Crater. They are really accelerating toward completion in the last few years in a way that it hasn’t in the last couple of decades. Some amazing support has come together,” says Glimcher. Other supporters of the Roden Crater project have included Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, songwriter and artist Carole Bayer Sager, and Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel and his wife Miranda Kerr.

Pace and Kayne Griffin Corcoran will also join together to throw a party celebrating Turrell at West Hollywood’s San Vicente Bungalows with a musical performance during Frieze Week. “We want to use all the Turrell events to bring more awareness to what’s happening at the crater,” says Glimcher. Adds Kayne, “If we had $100 for every person who ever told us they wanted to visit the crater, we would have millions.”

Both Glimcher and Kayne said they are excited to exhibit at Frieze Los Angeles, which is returning for its sophomore outing. “It really was able to garner a lot of attention. The energy was there and I’m confident and bullish about year two,” says Kayne. Adds Glimcher, “It was a super successful fair last year. It was more exciting than most art fairs. There are a lot of people who are talking about there being too many art fairs, but this is a place where tens of thousands of people come together just to focus on art, which is pretty exciting.”

Pace Gallery, which has a gallery on the West Coast in Palo Alto, Calif., will also open a solo exhibition of Turrell’s work Feb. 11 at its London location that will run through March 27.

“What James and Robert Irwin and Walter De Maria and so many artists did in the 1960s was say that art could progress beyond the object and become a phenomenon, an experience, that the artist could incorporate the conditions of the world around us, whether it was light or space or land,” says Glimcher. “Those ideas are so powerful now in this experience-oriented generation.”

Adds Kayne, “His work is future forward, but it’s also incredibly primitive. It reaches back to something fundamental and lets you experience your place in the universe in a grounding way.”