Zynga Founder Joins Kanye West in Donating Millions to James Turrell Art Project

Mark Pincus_Kendall Jenner_Michael Govan_Kanye West_Split - Getty - H 2020
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Last year the 'Jesus Is Born' artist put up $10 million for the Roden Crater, expected to be completed in 2025. "It’s this amazing integration of nature, science and art," says mobile games entrepreneur Mark Pincus.

The opening of Frieze Los Angeles on Thursday proved to be a busy day for artist James Turrell. At the fair — where the VIP preview drew the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez, Leonardo DiCaprio and Chelsea Handler — Pace Gallery and Kayne Griffin Corcoran gallery together sold four of Turrell’s wall sculptures. One of the geometrically shaped light pieces from his Glass series went to Kendall Jenner. DiCaprio was spotted snapping a photo of one of the Turrell pieces inside the two galleries’ joint booth.

Later that night, at a party held at West Hollywood’s San Vicente Bungalows, Pace Gallery president and CEO Marc Glimcher announced that Zynga mobile games founder Mark Pincus will donate $3 million to support a fundraising campaign for Turrell’s Roden Crater in the northern Arizona desert, a massive earthworks project that the light and space artist has been working on since 1977. Last year, Kanye West donated $10 million to advance completing the Roden Crater, which Turrell hopes to open to the public within the next five years. 

Pincus tells The Hollywood Reporter that he and his two nine-year-old daughters visited the Roden Crater about a week ago with Glimcher, where the billionaire gaming entrepreneur met 76-year-old Turrell. “This is his life’s work,” says Pincus of the project, in which the artist is turning a volcanic cylinder into a naked-eye observatory. “We were all just blown away by the scope and scale of what he’s doing and trying to do in the future. It’s this amazing integration of nature, science and art. He’s gone so deep in his thinking about how do you capture light and see things in a totally different way. It isolates you from any other light interference and creating this aperture to experience the sky and stars. It really moved all of us in a way we weren’t expecting.” 

“James himself is like an encyclopedia of the history of astronomy. I was just such a fanboy. I kept sneaking video of him talking. I just couldn’t stop myself,” adds Pincus, who’s currently the chairman of Zynga (“I’m not full-time there anymore”). He's in the midst of launching an investment fund with LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman called Reinvent Capital and says he’s “continuing to incubate creative ideas that inspire me in consumer Internet technology.” 

At the Thursday night party, where Grimes gave a surprise DJ set, guests included DiCaprio and girlfriend Camila Morrone, tennis player Maria Sharapova, LACMA director Michael Govan (who also is president of the Skystone Foundation, which supports the Roden Crater project), artist Mary Corse and art adviser Meredith Darrow of Darrow Contemporary, who works with Jenner and also has worked with Kourtney Kardashian.

Darrow told THR she helped her client Jenner acquire the Turrell. “She loves the work and she was very excited at the idea of acquiring a domestic work for home by the artist. She knew the artist and her brother-in-law Kanye has worked with the artist,” said Darrow. (West shot his film Jesus Is King at the crater site.) Asked to describe Jenner’s art collection, Darrow said, “She's been buying great things. She’s been acquiring very serious artworks by Richard Prince and Raymond Pettibon.” 

Pincus added that he hopes his donation inspires others to contribute to the Roden Crater fundraising campaign and that he wants to “connect them to more communities so that they can bring this to the rest of the world. It’s a fun time to get involved and introduce [Roden Crater] to a lot more people. It’s a different kind of art experience that’s completely immersive.” Last year, it was announced that Arizona State University would partner with Turrell to raise a total of $200 million to complete Roden Crater, part of which would go toward construction of a visitor center. 





Roden Crater, Crater Bowl. ©?James Turrell.

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