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First Light, plate A5
108 cm x 76 cm (42 1/2 in. x 29 15/16 in.)
Peter Blum Edition
(Los Angeles, California, 1943 - )
North America, American
Medium and Support:
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Purchase as a gift of Virginia and Ira Jackson, Houston, and through the generosity of the Still Water Foundation, 1996
First Light is James Turrell’s subtle and nuanced meditation on time and space as conjured through the elusive image of a shaft of light. Comprising 20 aquatints, each made from a similarly oversized plate, the work explores variations within a consistent framework, alluding to natural realms of perception and experience.
Trained in math and perceptual psychology before he became an artist, Turrell creates innovative, ethereal light installations that encourage viewers to become more aware of the process of seeing. Employing a skillful mix of engineering technique and optical illusion, the works use the phenomenon of light to evoke feelings of wonder and transcendence.
First Light is structured in four cycles, each directly related to Turrell’s earliest light installations made with projectors and to his very first print project, Deep Sky. For over 30 years, the artist has been engaged in an extraordinarily ambitious Land Art project, Roden Crater, the transformation of an extinct volcano in the Arizona desert into a celestial observatory. Like that project, First Light makes the simple beauty of the natural world heroic.