In the 1960s, the American art scene was divided into the abstract expressionists based in New York and the artists in California who had a more Eastern orientation. James Turrell was a west coast pioneer, and has become one of the leading exponents of site-specific art dealing with light and space.
Turrell (born 1943) comes from a Quaker background, a spiritual movement where light plays a central role. As a child, he was fascinated by the effect even a small light source could have in the dark. He perforated the curtains in his bedroom with small holes, and observed how the light fell through these holes.
As a young man, Turrell was a pilot. He studied mathematics and psychology in addition to art history and art, and uses this versatile background in his works.
Light is Turrell’s medium, and his Skyspace installation is an observatory that affects how we perceive the sky and the surrounding landscape.