James Turrell

Raemar, Blue


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Not on display

James Turrell born 1943
LED light
Overall display dimensions variable
Presented by the Tate Americas Foundation, partial purchase and partial gift of Doris J. Lockhart 2013


Raemar, Blue is one of the earliest and most significant of Turrell’s ‘Shallow Space Constructions’; works which combine architecture, sculpture, light and space to completely envelop the viewer in a coloured atmosphere. Raemar, Blue is an immersive spatial environment that plays with the experience of perception and the effect of light in space. The work was first executed in 1968, an important year for Turrell which saw him expand the confines of his earlier light projections into constructed physical environments. Blue light radiates from fluorescent tubes placed behind a partition that appears to float at the back of the gallery space. The artist has described the effect of this and similar works:

Light emanates from behind the partition … seeming to visually cause the partition to float, or turn inward or outward … in the Shallow Space Constructions, the lighted actual space in three dimensions alludes to two, and the space activated is the space outside that which is directly lighted.
(James Turrell, ‘Shallow Space Constructions’, in Whitney Museum of American Art 1980, p.20.)

Turrell found inspiration for his work from his experience as a pilot. He has described the experience of flying, saying ‘As you fly, you do see space that is determined not so much by physical confines, but by atmospheric and light phenomena within the space’(quoted in Richard Whittaker, ‘Greeting the Light: An Interview with James Turrell’, http://www.conversations.org/story.php?sid=32, accessed July 2010). His light installations are intended to produce a state of self-reflection and contemplation, encouraging viewers to become aware of the process of perception.

Further reading
James Turrell: Light & Space, exhibition catalogue, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York 1980.
Craig Adcock, James Turrell: The Art of Light and Space, Berkeley 1990.
Almine Rech and Ana Maria Torres, Rencontres 9: Almine Rech / James Turrell, Paris 2005.

Rachel Taylor
June 2007, updated July 2010

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