James Turrell & Studio Works


After studying art history and the psychology of perception in California, James Turrell (born in 1943 in Los Angeles) developed an interest, in his earliest works, in the transformation of space by artificial and natural light, as well as by the perceptive confusions which this entails.  James Turrell’s art is an art of perception formalized by a meticulous use of light and space.  With the large monochrome pictures in the series Light Pieces, he combines darkness with intense light surfaces which plunge visitors into an experience where their relationship to the dimensions of space are being forever altered.  With his Skyspaces (1975), the references disappear and all that remains is the permanent variations of light.  It is no longer the walls which form the space but a form of light which is matter.  In 1979, thanks to the support of two American foundations, Turrell purchased a volcano, The Roden Crater, in the middle of the Arizona desert; his plan was to turn this extinct crater into a large-scale, mystical and cosmic work, in which corridors and spherical rooms would each accommodate a specific light phenomenon.

Robert Mangurian (born in 1941 in Baltimore) is one of the founders of the Studio Works group, set up in 1969.  For the façade project of the Museum of Jurassic Technology (Culver City), Studio Works developed graphic associations.  Consisting of montages and swiftly made drawings, their proposal was akin to collage, focusing on the referential patchwork and the recycling of their first impressions.  This notion of recycling would be developed in The Archeology of Furniture:  Drawings on Giotto (1992).  These references to painting also show through in their production of individual dwellings and in the use of colour and the presentation of spaces (as for the Raise-up House in Los Angeles).  For Studio Works, colour constitutes a  dominant conceptual feature of the project as well as being a fully-fledged material.  This is illustrated by the Children’s Learning Center, the Grundman Mastering and the Milwaukee Montessori School recently built by the agency.

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