Enlightened thinking: James Turrell

The Frieder Burda Museum and Zumtobel created an exhibition for the light artist.

Images courtesy of The Frieder Burda Museum

The Frieder Burda Museum in the German city of Baden-Baden has unveiled its most elaborate installation ever with the opening of a new exhibition from the famous light artist James Turrell. The project has represented a major challenge for all parties, but lighting specialists from Zumtobel were on hand to support Turrell and the renowned art museum with their expert knowledge.

American light artist James Turrell is one of the leading artists of our time. Famed for flooding accessible spaces with light – quite literally – Turrell never fails to create new impressions. Whether the project features gentle oceans of light, clear and geometric light objects or diffuse celestial light fog, the medium of light seems to take on a tangible form in his productions, encouraging observers to rediscover and reflect their powers of perception.

Now art collector Frieder Burda has dedicated an exhibition to the light poet in his  Museum in Baden-Baden Turrell’s best-known works of the last few decades will be shown alongside older, previously unseen pieces and the light sculpture Accretion Disk, which was specially crafted for the Frieder Burda Collection. This project from the Curved Wide Glass series has been installed in the building designed by renowned New York architecture firm Richard Meier & Partners Architects, adding a further dimension to the collection. One of the highlights of the exhibition is the huge Apani large-scale light space – an installation that caused quite a stir at the 2011 Venice Biennale. The associated architectural elements and modifications, as well as the construction of the installation, represented the most complex challenge in the 14-year history of the museum.

As a long-standing lighting partner of James Turrell and the Frieder Burda Museum, Zumtobel supported both parties in an advisory capacity and helped with the technically demanding realisation of the individual pieces of art. The exhibition will be accompanied by a new publication celebrating the works of James Turrell.

The exhibition will be shown in the elegant Richard Meier building at the Frieder Burda Museum, which was opened in Baden-Baden in 2004. The light and expansive construction is seen as flagship project in the field of lighting and controls. The concept by New York architect and Pritzker Prize winner Richard Meier was designed with generous window fronts that flood the interior with natural light, meaning that artificial light plays little more than a supporting role. At the same time, lighting designers had to balance this approach with the tricky task of adequately protecting the often-sensitive exhibits from the destructive power of daylight and generally meeting the essential requirements of an art museum in terms of conservation.

This challenge was overcome in close collaboration with Zumtobel. An innovative solar shading and daylight control system that keeps the interior light level constant was incorporated into the design. Four light lines with two light colours enable the large hall to recreate the seasonal mood outside and accentuate the dominant colour of the space. The wallwasher system developed specifically for the illumination of the 12-metre-high walls in the large hall is installed at the side of the floor area on the freestanding mezzanine level. If the curator opts to use additional partition walls, the soft-emitting lighting channel system allows flexible installation throughout the room. Spots between the light channels highlight individual works of art, while almost all of the luminaires can be controlled separately.

The cooperation with James Turrell represents the latest in a long line of joint projects with Zumtobel, including Turrell’s light installations for the Skyspace at the Kunsthalle Bremen gallery in 2010, the “Apani” full-field artwork in 2011 and “Bridget’s Bardo”, the largest ever full-field project for the Museum of Art in Wolfsburg in 2009.

The next collaboration between Zumtobel and James Turrell will be the Skyspace in Lech – an underground light space in the middle of the alpine landscape of Vorarlberg, the home county of Zumtobel, which is set to offer a completely new view of the sky. The construction and opening of the Skyspace in Lech is scheduled for September 2018.

The exhibition runs through 28 October.

www.zumtobel.com /  https://www.museum-frieder-burda.de