Kanye West Donates $10 Million to Help Fund James Turrell’s Volcanic Land Art Project ‘Roden Crater’

The rapper predicts "we all will live in Turrell spaces" one day.

Kanye West onstage during The Meadows Music & Arts Festival under very Turrell-ian lighting. Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images for The Meadows.
Kanye West onstage during The Meadows Music & Arts Festival under very Turrell-ian lighting. Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images for The Meadows.

We all know Kanye West’s favorite artist: himself. But the high-profile rapper and husband of Kim Kardashian, who has recently been in the news for his erratic behavior and throwing his celebrity behind Donald Trump, is now pouring a huge amount of money into another artist’s very worthy cause: James Turrell’s ongoing and monumental Roden Crater project in the Painted Desert region of Arizona.

West is donating a hefty $10 million to the project, which Turrell initiated in 1977, and which has been the source of sporadic off-and-on funding and development ever since, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

According to the newspaper, the rapper embarked on an “art pilgrimage” to the crater last month, tweeting two days later that the experience was “life changing.” Shortly afterwards, West returned to the site with his team, which posted photos of the still-incomplete project. In late December, West and Turrell visited a major Turrell exhibition at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, titled “Into the Light.” At the museum, the rapper told Turrell: “You finally got me here, bro.”

News of West’s gift comes after the announcement by Turrell of a new master plan for Roden Crater, which was revealed separately in an article published by WSJ Magazine. To complete the project, the artist has partnered with Arizona State University to raise $200 million and build a creative and scientific community around the crater in the process. So far, $40 million has been raised.

“The great momentum at the moment is propelling new gifts like Kanye’s,”  says Olga Viso, former director of the Walker Art Center and now a senior advisor to the university. “Someone with Kanye’s visibility and reach will help more people learn about Roden Crater and what we’re trying to accomplish.”

“We are immensely grateful to Kanye, an incredibly important artist in his own right, for his generosity,” says Michael Govan, a board member of the Turrell Art Foundation and president of Skystone Foundation, which jointly oversee the Roden Crater Project.

West is already known to support artists such as Japanese Pop sensation Takashi Murakami and Italian performance artist Vanessa Beecroft. But of course, we couldn’t help wonder what other factors may have influenced his sudden benevolence.

Could it be driven partly by his ongoing beef with Drake? In December, West called Drake a “fake“—which is exactly the criticism that followed Drake’s 2016 video for “Hotline Bling,” which featured a Turrell-esque setting that Turrell said he had nothing to do with.

See more about Arizona State University’s partnership with Turrell in this just-released video:


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