The work of James Turrell (b. 1943, lives and works in Flagstaff, Arizona), one todays most renowned artists, focuses entirely on the exploration of light as a natural and artificial phenomenon. For the Dornier Museum Friedrichshafen
, James Turrell who as a flight enthusiast cultivates a special relationship with this institution has conceived a site-specific light installation that closely engages with the architecture of the building.
With the official opening of James Turrells light, the Dornier Museum Friedrichshafen will unveil an architectural intervention of international significance. After dusk the facade of the museum building, whose shape recalls an aircraft hangar, will be bathed in differentiated and interacting layers of color according to a specially designed lighting scheme by James Turrell.
The vertical and horizontal structures of the translucent facade will be lit separately, each allowing for virtually thousands of combinations of light intensity and color. The light literally dissolves the materiality of the various structural elements of the museum front, thus simultaneously granting and denying passers-by insight into the exhibition hall.
Turrells work uses light as an artistic material in its own right to challenge the boundaries of human perception. Bypassing traditional symbolic or figurative representations, his installations and environments allow for a sensual, near-physical experience of light as a distinct form of reality.
The Dornier Museum Friedrichshafen, with over 5,000 square meters of exhibition space covering 100 years of air and space history, is an icon of the spirit and creativity of the pioneers of aviation. In the person of James Turrell, one of the most influential exponents of Light Art, the museum was able to enlist an artist who has been pursuing his singular vision since the 1960s with remarkable perseverance and outstanding engagement.
James Turrell, who is a trained pilot, discovered his opus magnum, an extinct volcano called 'Roden Crater', during a scenic flight over the Arizona desert in the 1970s. Since this groundbreaking discovery, the artist has been gradually remodeling the crater into a vast sky observatory, where the light is led into an arrangement of rooms so-called 'Skyspaces' inside the mountain through a series of skylights, whose positioning was determined according to astronomical calculations. Turrells large-scale Land Art intervention allows visitors to overcome their perceptual limitations and foray into the depths of the universe.
Besides this ongoing project, Turrell is well-known for his light installations and exhibitions in museums worldwide. The installation on the facade of the Dornier Museum Friedrichshafen is a striking demonstration of his visionary power. James Turrells groundbreaking installation was implemented thanks to his close collaboration with the Austrian lighting company Zumtobel, who has been consistently assisting the artist in his endeavors by providing know-how and innovative technological solutions.