James Turrell Gives Us His Recipe

The Daily Pic: A light artist puts his ideas down on paper.

01.09.13 11:43 PM ET

In 1982, James Turrell, the great artist of light and space, issued this editioned blueprint for one of his classic illuminated installations. What I love about this piece, now in a group show of prints at Woodward Gallery in New York, is that it so absolutely refuses to try to reproduce any of the sensations caused by the finished work it describes. Instead, it translates the causes of those sensations into the engineering conventions of text and script and drawn line. The only hint of classically Turrellian style is in the dark-sky color of the blueprint itself, a color we’d normally read right through, as an unmarked artifact of drafting technology. The whole piece makes clear that Turrell, even at the start of his career, had as good chops as a conceptual artist as he did as a perceptualist.

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