James Turrell - Editions & Works on Paper New York Monday, October 24, 2022 | Phillips

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  • "This is the light we are given
    Every evening we unfold the light
    And every morning fold it back
    To return the blue sky"
    —James Turrell from Speaking for the Light
    Not unlike the grand Roden Crater or the ambitious light installations he is best known for, Turrell’s First Light is monumental in scope and concept. Consisting of 20 subtly misty aquatints, once installed they are of a scale rarely seen in printmaking. First Light takes as its ideological starting point the artist’s first body of light works, the Projection Pieces, which he began in 1967 and of which only a few light spaces were realized. Though there are conceptual and visual threads from these physical works to the prints themselves, the artist did not see them as illustrations of, or even about, his related works. He considered them active, luminous, and conceptually in line with his light installations, thus the most significant works of his printmaking oeuvre.

    Indeed, it was Turrell’s specific choice of the aquatint medium that gives the works the visual impact and lightness achieved in his installations. In his own words Turrell explains that the process can “evoke the atmospheric effect of the projection…the aquatint technique was used as the purest, most light-catching form of etching, one which could dispense with line, and instead allow for the subtle allover tonal effects present in the light works.”

    The imagery in the series is organized into five themes- squares, triangles, columns, rectangles, and parallelograms. These primarily abstract images are evocative of light pouring into the corner of an empty dark room. Morphing from one shape to another and from sheet to sheet, the contrast from dark to light activate their respective spaces. First Light is a tour de force that gives light an architectural yet ethereal quality, pushing the boundaries of the printmaking in a way only Turrell could accomplish.

    • Catalogue Essay

      Including: Shanta; Catso; Afrum; Munson; Squat; Raethro; Alta; Gard; Carn; Arco; Ondoe; Phantom; Juke; Sloan; Fargo; Decker; Joecar; Enzu; Tlooyn and Meeting


First Light

The complete set of 20 etching and aquatints, on Zerkall paper, with full margins.
all I. 39 1/8 x 27 1/4 in. (99.4 x 69.2 cm)
all S. 42 3/8 x 29 3/4 in. (107.6 x 75.6 cm)

All signed, titled and numbered VII/X and 19 annotated 'A₁– A₅', 'B₁– B₃', 'C₁– C₄', 'D₁–D₄' and 'E₁–E₃' respectively in pencil (artist's proofs, the edition was 30), published by Peter Blum Edition, New York, all framed.

Full Cataloguing

$80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for $119,700

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212 940 1220

Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 24 - 26 October 2022