James Turrell, Aten Reign, 2015 - Photograph by James Turrell
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James Turrell
James Turrell, Aten Reign, 2015



"I like to use light as a material, but my medium is actually perception," said James Turrell (b. 1943). "I want you to sense yourself sensing —to see yourself seeing." Turrell's exhibition at the Guggenheim in 2013 was his first solo display in New York City since the 1980's, and he was ready to catch Manhattan's eye. In his skyscape titled Aten Reign, the Light and Space artist transformed the museum's iconic rotunda into an enormous oculus that could only be viewed from the ground floor. The installation emanated the full spectrum of color, hypnotically shifting from hue to hue. "Aten Reign, a series of suspended oval armatures and sheer scrims that span the entire cavity of the building, is so overwhelming, meditative, beautiful and suited to the space that you actually forget you’re in the Guggenheim, where it’s almost architecturally impossible to do so," wrote Times Quotidian of the work. Turrell joked that Frank Lloyd Wright might not have approved of this radical alteration of the structure's design. Turrell’s interest in light, he explains, “lies in the thingness of light itself,” rather than “light as we normally use it … to illuminate other things.” In translating Aten Reign to two-dimensional, printed form, Turrell was challenged to translate light itself, into paper, through color. Perhaps the greatest distinction between light and ink, Turrell explains, is the way color interacts in the discrete mediums: “When you pour ink … if you mix blue and yellow, you get a green; but if you mix blue light [and] yellow light, you get white.” He began developing the print through photographs of the original installation, and the psychological and emotional impact of the original. The piece beautifully encapsulates the essence of the installation with a stillness and sense of wonder. His revolutionary but ephemeral artistic statement is captured in this large-scale archival pigment print created in 2015. “Aten Reign” like the masterwork it depicts, this 44-by-65-inch piece has its own gravitational pull beyond its white border. The piece is signed by Turrell in graphite on the back. The piece is from an edition of 5 printer’s proofs. A printers proof is a special subset of the edition that the artist gives to each member of the printer team as a gift of appreciation for their work on the project. Printers Proofs are generally printed at the front end of the edition and are prized pieces from an edition. The larger edition is only 30 pieces which is a very small edition size. The piece is in mint condition as it has never been framed or shown in any capacity and has been stored according to museum standards since its inception. James Turrell, Aten Reign, 2015, Archival pigment print, 44 x 65 in


  • Condition
  • Dimensions

    H 44 in. x W 65 in.

    H 111.76 cm x W 165.1 cm

  • Gallery location
    Santa Fe, NM
  • Reference number

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