Quotes by James Turrell

Light itself is a revelation.
- James Turrell
Las Vegas is about distraction.
- James Turrell
I want people to treasure light.
- James Turrell
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I sell blue sky and coloured air.
- James Turrell
Art does, to some extent, follow economics.
- James Turrell
Light knows when you're looking at it.
- James Turrell
I am involved in the architecture of space.
- James Turrell
My art has no object, no image, no point of focus.
- James Turrell
I am interested in the physicality of light itself.
- James Turrell
Art history is littered with work that involves light.
- James Turrell
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If you're not an optimist, forget being an artist.
- James Turrell
There aren't many artists who can feel sorry for me.
- James Turrell
I live in the sky as a pilot, so it has great meaning to me.
- James Turrell
I wanted to deal with light directly rather than with paint.
- James Turrell
I apprehend light - I make events that shape or contain light.
- James Turrell
I don't worry about whether anyone knows anything about art.
- James Turrell
We use the vocabulary of light to describe a spiritual experience.
- James Turrell
I don't know if I believe in art. I certainly believe in light.
- James Turrell
Planets' orbits are elliptical. It's a very pleasing shape.
- James Turrell
All art is contemporary art because it had to be made when it was now.
- James Turrell
I hope that when you see my work, you are looking at yourself looking.
- James Turrell
There was a time when I restored antique planes to support my art habit.
- James Turrell
It's really terrific to see Pittsburgh recognize the Mattress Factory.
- James Turrell
It's possible to gather light that's older than our solar system.
- James Turrell
This idea that light plays an important part in our life is important to me.
- James Turrell
If you just add all the time, add more and more light, it loses its meaning.
- James Turrell
In age of consumerism and materialism, I traffic in blue sky and colored air.
- James Turrell
The Quakers don't believe in music or art; they think it's a vanity.
- James Turrell
At my first exhibits, people were saying that's just a light on the wall.
- James Turrell
Color is just in a small area of our vision, and the rest we add with the mind.
- James Turrell
I don't think my work is about the spiritual life, but it certainly touches on it.
- James Turrell
I've always wanted to make a light that looks like the light you see in your dream.
- James Turrell
I come from a family that does not believe in art to this day. They think art is vanity.
- James Turrell
I was waiting for L.A. to always become something important. I gave up... I left in 1974.
- James Turrell
I am interested in relating the things we see with the things we see with our eyes closed.
- James Turrell
We think we receive all that we perceive, but in fact, we actually give the sky its colour.
- James Turrell
I have high expectations of my audience, and in general, I would say they've met that.
- James Turrell
My desire is to bring astronomical events and objects down into your personal, lived-in space.
- James Turrell
Nowhere in the job description of an artist is the requirement that I must validate your taste.
- James Turrell
I know that science is very interested in answers, and I'm just happy with a good question.
- James Turrell
The lunar cycle within the solar season: that kind of syncopated rhythm is what life relates to.
- James Turrell
We live within this reality we create, and we're quite unaware of how we create the reality.
- James Turrell
I'm working to bring celestial objects like the sun and moon into the spaces that we inhabit.
- James Turrell
I'm interested in light. It's a very direct, pragmatic, American, rather naive approach.
- James Turrell
It is only when light is reduced that the pupil opens and feeling goes out of the eyes like touch.
- James Turrell
There are very few religious experiences that aren't explained using the vocabulary of light.
- James Turrell
New York has changed amazingly; it's gentrified everywhere, and it's a much gentler place.
- James Turrell
From the very beginning, I was very interested just in light, and art seemed to be a way to work with it.
- James Turrell
I've always been interested in arrival, and coming to a space, and even to looking back at where you were.
- James Turrell
One way to understand light in the ocean of air is by flying it. Life in the air is an extension of perceiving.
- James Turrell
I look at light as a material. It is physical. It is photons. Yes, it exhibits wave behavior, but it is a thing.
- James Turrell
When you sit down and see someone play at a piano, you don't think, 'Wow - what a fantastic machine.'
- James Turrell
We're part of creating this world in which we live, but we're unaware of how we do that or even that we do that.
- James Turrell
To some degree, to control light, I have to have a way to form it, so I use form almost like the stretcher bar of a canvas.
- James Turrell
I have made things for Calvin Klein and other designers, and it's interesting to see the way each person approaches it.
- James Turrell
The cardones cactus is very similar to saguaro cactus in Arizona. These cacti only grow in very specific, particular places.
- James Turrell
I haven't been that great at attending my own openings. Still, I'm learning to enjoy this a lot more than I used to.
- James Turrell
The wonderful thing about being an artist in L.A. is that there is no taste. There's anarchy of taste, which seems good to me.
- James Turrell
Usually we are illuminating things instead of looking at the light itself. But I like this quality of the light being the revelation.
- James Turrell
Each day is a different length of time and that gives a different length to the cusp between light and darkness or darkness and light.
- James Turrell
I like to use light as a material, but my medium is actually perception. I want you to sense yourself sensing - to see yourself seeing.
- James Turrell
I want to create an atmosphere that can be consciously plumbed with seeing... like the wordless thought that comes from looking in a fire.
- James Turrell
I used to think that only people who were crazy were attracted to the desert, but once you've lived there, you become that way anyway.
- James Turrell
Sometimes I'm kind of cranky coming to see something. I saw the Mona Lisa when it was in L.A., saw it for 13 seconds and had to move on.
- James Turrell
Drake went through my exhibition. I did meet him in Los Angeles, and he was in the spaces that I did do there, and has some images from that.
- James Turrell
There's truth in light. You can tell what elements a star is composed of and the temperature at which it burns by the light it gives off.
- James Turrell
Light is a powerful substance. We have a primal connection to it. But, for something so powerful, situations for its felt presence are fragile.
- James Turrell
I feel that buildings often have a workaday aspect that you see during the daylight hours, and a more resplendent side that emerges after dark.
- James Turrell
In many cases, if we knew what it would take, we might have thought twice about it, so it's often wonderful that we don't have hindsight.
- James Turrell
I feel my work is made for one being, one individual. You could say that's me, but that's not really true. It's for an idealized viewer.
- James Turrell
My mother did not have a toaster oven and would toast bread in the oven, which I thought was stupid. They didn't do cars and electricity, that kind of stuff.
- James Turrell
I started out with projected-light works and working indoors, but I'd prepare the walls - by sanding, etcetera - the way you'd prepare a canvas for painting.
- James Turrell
You can't stop demographics. And show me a fence that ever worked. It didn't work at Hadrian's Wall. The Great Wall of China didn't work. The Berlin Wall.
- James Turrell
I would describe Los Angeles as actually not having taste. In New York, there's taste. But you have to remember that taste is censorship. It's a form of restriction.
- James Turrell
I come from L.A. where there's a sense of show. But that's not a bad word in my mind. We say art 'show,' don't we? 'Show' implies entertainment.
- James Turrell
There are different stages when you fly. The first stage is the dollhouse effect, seeing everything on Earth like it's a model. Suddenly, all of your concerns seem very small.
- James Turrell
One of the tenets in Quaker meditation is that you 'go inside to greet the light.' I am interested in this light that's inside greeting the light that's outside.
- James Turrell
This wonderful elixir of light is the thing that actually connects the immaterial with the material - that connects the cosmic to the plain everyday existence that we try to live in.
- James Turrell
I don't want you looking at the light fixture; I want you looking at where light goes. But more than that, I'm interested in the effect of light upon you and your perceptions.
- James Turrell
If you take blue paint and yellow paint and you mix them, you get green paint. But if you take blue light and yellow light and mix them, you get white light. This is a shock to most people.
- James Turrell
I like illusion when it is so convincing that we might as well see reality this way - I like to present to our belief system something that is convincing, that 'we know not to be.'
- James Turrell
I feel that I want to use light as this wonderful and magic elixir that we drink as Vitamin D through the skin - and I mean, we are literally light-eaters - to then affect the way that we see.
- James Turrell
There is an idea, first of all, of vision fully formed with the eyes closed. Of course the vision we have in a lucid dream often has greater lucidity and clarity than vision with the eyes open.
- James Turrell
The people in L.A. do orient themselves to light. I used to call it 'Tan Fascist Culture.' Everyone there is tanned, wears dark sunglasses, looks like a movie star even when they're not.
- James Turrell
The sky always seems to be out there, away from us. I like to bring it down in close contact with us, so you feel you are in it. We feel we are at the bottom of this ocean of air; we are actually on a planet.
- James Turrell
I like to work with it so that you feel it physically, so you feel the presence of light inhabiting a space. My desire is to set up a situation to which I take you and let you see. It becomes your experience.
- James Turrell
In Arizona, we're at 7,000 feet, so we're above half of the world's atmosphere. It's crisp but hard, a side-raking light that can be revealing but doesn't have the softness that maritime air has.
- James Turrell
It's difficult for people to visualize from my drawings what it's going to be, so I often find myself talking them into things that they go along with, and when they see what's been made, they are surprised.
- James Turrell
I've always thought of Las Vegas as Los Angeles on its day off. There's not any hierarchy of taste, and that's what L.A. always was to me: It's not really a town of culture - it's a town of entertainment.
- James Turrell
If you think about art, if you look at Rembrandt and Vermeer and Caravaggio, if you look at Turner and Constable and all the Impressionists and the Hudson River School, there's a tradition of light in art, especially painting.
- James Turrell
We're made for the light of a cave and for twilight. Twilight is the time we see best. When we dim the light down, and the pupil opens, feeling comes out of the eye like touch. Then you really can feel colour, and experience it.
- James Turrell
There's traditionally been a large disconnection in contemporary art between the audience and the artist. Generally, audiences are looking towards what they like, and I can tell you, that's the last thing on an artist's mind.
- James Turrell
I always thought that people who live in the desert are a little crazy. It could be that the desert attracts that kind of person, or that after living there, you become that. It doesn't make much difference. But now I've done my 40 years in the desert.
- James Turrell
We have spent billions to go to the moon - we go to this lesser satellite called the moon and say we are in space, but we are in space right now; we just don't feel ourselves to be in space. Some forms of art and some forms of spirituality do give us that sense.
- James Turrell
In a way, light unites the spiritual world and the ephemeral, physical world. People frequently talk about spiritual experiences using the vocabulary of light: Saul on the road to Damascus, near-death experiences, samadhi or the light-filled void of Buddhist enlightenment.
- James Turrell
The works of previous artists have come from their own experiences or insights but haven't given the experience itself. They had set themselves up as a sort of interpreter to the layman... Our interest is in a form where you realize that the media are just perception.
- James Turrell
At Roden Crater, I was interested in taking the cultural artifice of art out into the natural surround. I wanted the work to be enfolded in nature in such a way that light from the sun, moon and stars empowered the spaces. I wanted to bring culture to the natural surround as if one was designing a garden.
- James Turrell
Generally, we use light to illuminate other things. I like the thingness, the materiality of light itself. So it feels like it's occupying the space, making a plane, being something that was there, not just passing through. Because light is just passing through. I make these spaces that seem to arrest it for our perception.
- James Turrell
My aunt was Frances Hodges, who in the Fifties was the editor of 'Seventeen' and later one of the creators of 'Mademoiselle.' She was my Auntie Mame; she loved culture. She was a Quaker, but she became a milliner against all Quaker logic - they feel that fashion and art are vanities - because she loved fashion.
- James Turrell