James Turrell to create a new work for GOMA


A major architectural light installation by internationally renowned light artist James Turrell (United States, b.1943) is set to transform Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA).

QAGOMA Director Chris Saines said the James Turrell commission would illuminate GOMA’s facade at night with support from the Queensland Government, generous donations from leading benefactors, and the 2017 QAGOMA Foundation Appeal.

The ambitious and dramatic artwork will be a permanent installation, transforming the way the building is seen and experienced.

In 2002, after Architectus + Davenport Campbell won the international competition to design GOMA, lead architects Kerry Clare, Lindsay Clare and James Jones envisaged an artist-illuminated ‘white box’ on the building’s main pedestrian approaches.

Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane

Turrell’s architectural light installation will activate the potential of GOMA’s white box facade and realise one of the architects’ original design intentions with the building. It will see GOMA’s eastern and southern facades illuminated from within from dusk with an evolving pattern of light developed by the artist for the location.

“We have our day clothes, but when we go out at night we often dress up. Like buildings, we have a different life at night, and I have always wanted to give this life to buildings, to cloak these structures in a beautiful raiment of light. It is amazing how much light can change your perception of a building”.

James Turrell, 2016

The artwork will be visible from around the Cultural Precinct and across the river, adding substantially to the presence of the already iconic building, giving it new life after dark.

The Queensland Government had generously contributed funds towards the development of the ambitious commission and QAGOMA has been fortunate to receive an outstanding lead donation from Paul and Susan Taylor, and a generous contribution from the Neilson Foundation.

In helping realise the extraordinary artwork, it is the focus of the 2017 QAGOMA Foundation Appeal, seeking further support from Foundation members and the broader community to realise an iconic addition to GOMA and Brisbane’s cityscape.

Turrell’s work will showcase GOMA and it has the potential to become yet another impressive ‘destination artwork’, the likes of which the Arizona-based artist has created around the world.

For more than half a century, Turrell has worked with light and space to create immersive and moving artworks that play with viewers’ perceptions. His large-scale luminous installations – located in or on buildings, or within landscapes – attract visitors from around the world.

Turrell has created more than 80 ‘Skyspaces’, chambers with an aperture in the ceiling open to the sky, including Within without (2010) at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, and Amarna (2015), at the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart.

Since 1974, he has been working on a monumental project at Roden Crater, an extinct volcano in northern Arizona, while continuing to create works for public and private institutions in 24 countries. In 2014 Turrell received a National Medal of Arts — the highest award granted to artists by the US National Endowment for the Arts

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Feature image: Indicative image of James Turrell’s architectural light installation at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)

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