Tuesday, July 30, 2013

very violet

James Turrell
Aten Reign

I got to the Guggenheim on opening day of James Turrell's Aten Reign, the artist's first exhibition in a New York museum in over three decades. The throngs of visitors I expected did not materialize, and I was swept into the rotunda by noon.

very violet

Even the saltiest New York City art goer will be disoriented when entering Aten Reign, an installation that transforms the Guggenheim in ways that are obvious and in ways that are not so obvious; some are even indiscernible. 

The circular benches in the main rotunda are tipped back so viewers are dramatically reclined when seated. It's beautiful, of course; as Roberta Smith said, "ravishing." 

But as usual, I was restless -- unable to sit in reverie for long -- so my experience was a more kinetic one. 

stairway to heaven

True enough, the rotunda changes color with a magical finesse that is both subtle and strident with ambient in-between colors that are almost invisible, shedding a transparent, almost ultraviolet presence -- the color of transition. This cannot be apprehended in any way other than first hand experience.

very yellow


empty galleries

Of the greatest surprises, the empty galleries took my breath away. "This is artistic power," I thought -- the bravura to leave all that bare canvas. Interesting. 

As I walked upward along the bare bones of that famed circle, it felt as if I were traversing an abandoned stage set from a Ridley Scott film. 

other works 
(effective reproduction exceeded writer's skill sets)

Other works from other periods in Turrell's development are on view throughout the annex galleries. These are, perhaps, of greater singular interest, especially in the way they shape-shift light and form. 

Sometimes hallucinatory (for my money, more so that the main attraction), Turrell's room-size works bend the apprehension of visual space so that, if even for a moment, the world appears to be one big optical illusion.

And so it goes. 

ambient rotunda sound

very, very blue

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