See These Awe-Inspiring James Turrell Works Around Europe You Probably Didn’t Know Existed

Is there a James Turrell near you?

James Turrell The Color Beneath (2013) Photo: Ekebergparken / © Ivar Kvaal

James Turrell The Color Beneath (2013)
Photo: Ekebergparken / © Ivar Kvaal

James Turrell‘s work is as instantly recognizable as it is undefinable, existing somewhere between land art, light art, sculpture, and installation.

Turrell has been exploring the nature of light and space since the 1960s, and in that time has created works all over the world from Yucatan to Japan, not to mention his yet-unfinished opus magnum, the Roden Crater in the Arizona desert. But if you are living in Europe, there are also many Turrell works closer to home you may not know about. We picked out our favorites and they are all spectacular, enjoy!

James Turrell's light installation in the chapel of the Dorotheenstädtischen cemetery, Berlin. <br>Photo: David Heerde via Der Tagesspiegel

James Turrell’s light installation in the chapel of the Dorotheenstädtische cemetery, Berlin.
Photo: David Heerde via Der Tagesspiegel

1. Light installation in the chapel of the Dorotheenstädtische Cemetery, Berlin
Spirituality and meditation are often mentioned in conjunction with the work of James Turrell, and his newest light installation, inaugurated in Berlin this past July, makes conscious use of these qualities.

The cemetery is one of Berlin’s most famous and most beautiful. Founded in 1763, it serves as the final resting place of Bertolt Brecht, Heinrich Mann, Hegel, and Fichte, architects Schinkel, and Schadow and many other luminaries. The chapel, originally built in 1929, is now home to Turrell’s only permanent work in Berlin.

James Turrell <i>Piz Uter </i> (2005) <br> Photo: Florian Holzherr

James Turrell Piz Uter (2005)
Photo: Florian Holzherr

2. Piz Uter (2005) Hotel CastellZouz, Switzerland
Located in Zouz, near St. Moritz in the Swiss Alps, the skyspace Piz Uter is installed in a breathtaking location, overlooking the Engadine valley. Making use of the play of light and color in the clear mountain skies, entering the solemn stone rotunda makes for a particularly meditative experience. 

The work also evokes striking associations to the image of mountains in Romantic landscape paintings. Turrell’s walk-in room installation is the highlight of the considerable collection of art installed at the Hotel Castell, owned by collector Ruedi Bechtler with Iwan and Manuela Wirth as partners.  

James Turel Double Vision (2013)Photo: Ekebergparken / © Florian Holzherr

James Turell Double Vision (2013)
Photo: Ekebergparken / © Florian Holzherr

3. Double Vision and The Color Beneath (2013) Ekebergparken, Olso, Norway
The entrance to the skyspace, located beneath a man-made pond, leads the viewer through a vault glowing in slowly-changing, colored neon lights. The round skyspace that awaits is filled with natural northern light, as well as the sound of water drops hitting the stone floor of the hollowed space.

Visitors can book sunrise sessions in the skyspace depending on the season, as Norwegian winters are mostly dark.

<i>Celestial Vault</i>(), James Turrell <br> Photo: via National Geographic

James Turrell Celestial Vault (1996)
Photo: via National Geographic

4. Celestial Vault (1996), Kijkduin, Stroom, The Netherlands
When the idea of a huge crater dug out of the ground in an area near the Hague was originally discussed, it was written off as too ambitious. Luckily, it wasn’t entirely neglected, and since 1996, the elliptical bowl sits in the dunes at 30 meters wide and 40 meters long with a six meter tunnel through which viewers seated in the centre can watch the horizon line.

This work, although it bears all the trademarks of a Turrell piece, perhaps due its open aspect stands out amongst his other large scale installations.

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James Turrell Skyspace (2000)
Photo: via Kielder Art and Architecture

5. Skyspace (2000), Kielder Water, Northumberland, England, United Kingdom
Skyspace stands on a rugged outcrop in the rough beauty of the Northumberland Countryside. From the outside, it is an ancient-looking stone structure but from the inside, in true Turrell style, the sky takes over. Looking up at the sky through the circular opening in the roof, varying amounts of light flood the space depending on what’s happening in the sky above.

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James Turrell Third Breath (2009)
Photo: via Kunstgebiet

6. Third Breath (2009), Unna, Germany
Third Breath lives fittingly at the Centre for International Light Art and is accessible through an underground tunnel. The viewer initially enters an ante-chamber set up like a camera obscura, and then continues into the striking upper part of the work which is filled with light and colour.

The work is installed at Unna in Germany, a Brewery that has been transformed into a museum dedicated to light art. It is host to works by Olafur Eliasson, Mario Merz, Rebecca Horn, and Christian Boltanski.

<i>Second Wind</i> (2005) James Turrell<br> Photo: via Cadiz Turismo

James Turrell Second Wind (2005)
Photo: via Cadiz Turismo

7. Second Wind (2007), Fundación NMAC Vejer de la Frontera (Cádiz), Spain
A light sequence work, Second Wind is only visitable as a guided tour. Viewers enter into a red sandstone pyramid via a tunnel and enter a black Stupa, or Buddhist dome, that is surrounded by a pool of water. Once inside there is an illusion of the sky appearing much closer.

The work was commissioned for the 30 hectare sculpture park—situated in a pine forest—along with sculptures by Marina Abramovic, and Huang Yong Ping.

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Deer Shelter (2007) James Turrell
Photo: via Leeds List

8. Deer Shelter Skyspace (2006), Yorkshire Sculpture Park, England, United Kingdom
Deer Shelter (2006), is in fact a reworking of a temporary work by Turrell made in 1993. Inspired by the rough Yorkshire countryside, Turrell transformed the rural, 18th century red brick deer shelter in Yorkshire Sculpture Park into a skyspace. On entering the space the viewer finds themselves in a newly excavated chamber. Those looking up at the sky through the hole in the ceiling have said that the experience is near-spiritual.

The park then commissioned a permanent work in 2007, which was funded by UK national art charity The Art Fund and cost £800,000, ($1,232,644).

<i>Ship of State</i> James Turrell<br> Photo: jamesturrell.com

James Turrell Ship of State,  (2007)
Photo: jamesturrell.com

9. Ship of State (2007), Peugeot Design Center, Paris, France
Ship of State is an example of Turrell’s light architecture. The band of fluctuating light wraps around the space-age structure of the Peugrot Design Center in Paris.

When speaking of the work Turrell talks about the nightly existence of a building as though the light and its movement reflects a kind of subconscious dream-life.

© James Turrell, Foto: Harald Rehling

James Turrell, Above-Between-Below (2011)
Photo: Kunsthalle Bremen – Der Kunstverein in Bremen, © James Turrell, Foto: Harald Rehling

10. Above – Between – Below (2011), Kunshalle Bremen, Germany
Above-Between- Below (2011) is a skyspace with a difference. The work is essentially a three-story light room, with a hole through the center. Viewers can enter at any floor, looking upwards or downwards as the perspective changes accordingly along with the saturated colored light.

“It’s about perception,” Turrell told Interview Magazine.” For me, it’s using light as a material to influence or affect the medium of perception. I feel that I want to use light as this wonderful and magic elixir that we drink as Vitamin D through the skin—and I mean, we are literally light-eaters—to then affect the way that we see.” 

To find a James Turrell near you, look at this handy map of the world which pinpoints the locations of his works.

Related stories:

Artist Index: James Turrell

Got $6,500 To Splash? Visit James Turrell’s Roden Crater

See James Turrell’s Spectacular Light Projections at Houghton Hall

National Gallery of Art in Canberra Offers Naked Tours of James Turrell’s Artwork


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