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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist

  • Exhibited

    Santa Monica,The Main and Hill Studio, Mendota Hotel, Light Projections, 1968; Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, JimTurrell, April 9 - May 23, 1976; Denmark, Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Starlight: James Turrell, Maurzio Nannucci, Bruce Nauman, September 3 - November 13, 1994

  • Literature

    E. deWilde, R. Dippel, D. Mignot, and J. van Loenen Martinet, JimTurrel, Amsterdam, 1976, n.p.; A. MariaTorres, ed., James Turrell,Valencia, 2004, p. 109 and p. 111 (illustrated); D. Anfam and J.Turrell, James Turrell: ProjectionWorks 1967-69, London, 2004, pp. 46-47 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    The current lot, Phantom (White), 1967 is a fine example of a JamesTurrell SingleWall Projection Piece. JamesTurrell began exploring the structural properties of light as early as 1966 with simple light projections across the floor designed to create the illusion of a hovering cube from a distance, seemingly attached to a corner in space.Turrell was intrigued by the concept of using light as a structural material. He describes his early impressions of these works in purely functional terms, “From a distance, this shape had a solidity literally composed of light.And, at a distance but moving to the side, this impression grew stronger because the cube seemed to reveal itself in perspective.Advancing toward the image, it would eventually dissolve to the point where you saw not the object in space but the actual light on the wall,” (J.Turrell, Light & Space, NewYork, 1980, p.17).
     
    Turrell’s description illuminates the artist’s approach to his medium. Less interested in the ephemeral qualities of light,Turrell is fixated on the optic ability to make light appear as its material opposite.The Projection Series objectifies light by making it a tangible artistic material, reinforcing the physicality of an illusionistic wall.AsTurrell’s understanding of light became more sophisticated, he began using Xenon projectors, which allowed him to increase the size of the projection without a corresponding loss of brilliance in the light. Moreover, this technological development increased the crispness of the focus, further reinforcing the structural capacities of the medium. Reflecting on this development,Turrell says of The Projection Series, “The intensity of the images tended to dematerialize the wall surface so that it was perceived as a luminous rectangle. In some instances, this rectangle of light was seen as a nondimensionally thin sheet of light that existed several inches in front of the wall surface; in other cases the image appeared as if you were looking into an indeterminate space that went through the wall, ” (J.Turrell, Light & Space, NewYork, 1980, p.17).
     
    In either case,Turrell discovered that the projections dealt with the wall space in such a way that mimicked the conventional function of the painting support.The projections were installed in order to alter the perception of the fixed wall spaces. Generally placed on or just above floor level, as well as impinging on the angles of adjoining walls, these basic rectilinear images altered the qualities of physical limits within the room. Commenting on this effect,Turrell states, “All of these pieces existed at the limits or very slightly inside the limits of the physical space.They affected the viewer’s awareness of the space and tended to create a hypothetical or imaginary space within the gallery that could be dissolved on approaching the image,” (J.Turrell, Light & Space, NewYork, 1980, p.17).
     
    Turrell focused on using light as a structural property that could create “the quality of illusion [that could] be both convincing and dissoluable.” As a medium, light became a crucial component for expanding artistic boundaries within the technological discourse that emerged during the post-war era.

161

Phantom, (White)

1967
Light Projection installation comprised of Xenon projector charged to MRI wire.
Dimensions variable
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

Estimate
$350,000 - 450,000 

Sold for $301,000

Contemporary Art Part I

15 May 2008, 7pm
New York