The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) will open a new “Skyspace” installation by James Turrell, who is known worldwide for his monumental installations largely composed of light and sculptural elements, on May 29. The work will be part of the museum’s long-term Turrell retrospective, which traces six decades of the artist’s career and, with the addition of the “Skyspace,” will present a major example of every aspect of the artist’s practice.
MASS MoCA’s Skyspace will be the largest free-standing circular piece of its kind by the artist to date, measuring 40 feet tall and capable of hosting 50 viewers at a time. Turrell was first inspired to create the work when he visited the museum in 1987, and it will be situated in a derelict concrete water tank. Also beginning on May 29, the museum will show a focused exhibition of Turrell’s ceramic works.
Joseph Thompson, the founding director of MASS MoCA who announced plans to step down last year, said in a statement, “In many ways, this story exemplifies MASS MoCA’s commitment to supporting artists and their careers over time, and to working with them to realize their dreams, no matter how big or ambitious.”
“The work’s simplicity and raw industrial materials are in keeping with my earlier works of the 1970s and ’80s, which I guess is not surprising, since that’s when this project was first conceived,” Turrell said in a statement.
The new “Skyspace,” one of more than 80 works of its kind held in private and public collections today, is co-fabricated by MASS MoCA fabricators together with DCG Design and Darryl Cowie. (Turrell has worked with DCG Design and Darryl Cowie on past projects, including Roden Crater in Arizona.) The work will join nine other large-scale, immersive installations in the museum’s exhibition.
In recent years, Turrell’s oeuvre has taken on a new valence in popular culture, with celebrities like Kanye West and Kendall Jenner among the most high-profile followers of the artist’s work.