Artist Index: James Turrell
On June 21, the work of James Turrell (American, b.1943) will find its way into a New York museum for the first time since 1980, with the opening of James Turrell at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, NY. The exhibition will center around Aten Reign (2013), a light installation intended to transform the viewer’s experience of the museum’s rotunda and play with the architecture of its famous designer, Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867–1959). To honor the event, artnet Analytics is taking a look at the artist and his market.
Turrell is primarily recognized for his use of light and space; he creates experiential works in which the focus is not on the origin of the light, but light itself. The artist completed his undergraduate studies at Pomona College, where he focused on psychology, mathematics, and astronomy. He later received a MFA from Claremont Graduate School. It was in the 1960s that Turrell began creating his iconic artworks of light, beginning what became known as the Light and Space Movement in Los Angeles. Other artists recognized as part of this this movement are Robert Irwin (American, b.1928) and Doug Wheeler (American, b.1939). Perhaps the best known work in Turrell’s oeuvre is Roden Crater. Starting in 1979, Turrell gradually turned the extinct volcano cone into a unique landscape and artwork. Peppered with various viewing spaces and multiple light sources, the crater acts as an observatory that links man, nature, and outer space through unique experiences.
The graph above tracks the performance of Turrell against that of the S&P 500. As can be seen, the market for the artist has outperformed the S&P 500 over the past decade. While the market did lose traction from 2008 until 2010, it has since grown, realizing gains of 200% in 2012. The highest selling work by the artist sold in 2007 for US$441,000 at Sotheby’s London.
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