James Turrell

United States 1943

Installation, Light Art


James Turrell
James Turrell
United States
September 17, 2014
Music, Gestalt, .

By manipulating light rather than paint or sculptural material, James Turrell made a radical move, introducing art that was not an object but an experience in perception. The very nature of seeing was in question. During the last half a century, the artist has become worldwide known not only for his light projections and installations but especially for his continued work for more than three decades on his Roden Crater project. Whether he’s projecting shapes on a flat wall or into the corner of a gallery space, James Turrell is perpetually asking the viewers to ‘go inside and greet the light’. Through these interventions, he rekindles the location’s identity, turning it into a temple of spirit that encourages a state of meditative contemplation.

Early Life and Education

Born in Los Angeles, Turrell was brought up in Pasadena in a devout Quaker family. His father, Archibald Milton Turrell, was an aeronautical engineer and educator, and his mother trained as a medical doctor and later worked in the Peace Corps. He admitted that it wasn’t always easy to exist as an artistic spirit in those circumstances: “I come from a family that does not believe in art to this day. They think art is vanity.”[1] However, there were some family members that had a different lifestyle, believing into something else. Frances Hodges, one of his aunts, lived in Manhattan and worked for a fashion magazine. When he visited, she would take him to all sorts of cultural events, from museums to concerts, expanding along the way his virtues of engagement with modern life. On one of these trips with his aunt, Turrell visited the Museum of Modern Art, where he discovered the work of Thomas Wilfred, who experimented with projected light back in the early 1900s. In 1961, he graduated from Pasadena High School and enrolled at Pomona College to study math and perceptual psychology. Four years later, he received a BA in Psychology. His interests seemed to emphasize the science, but he never actually stopped indulging his interest in art. After graduation, he enrolled in a graduate art program at the University of California, Irvine, but only spent a year there. In 1966, he was arrested for coaching young men to avoid the Vietnam draft. He spent about a year in jail, and after his release in 1967, moved into a shuttered hotel in the Ocean Park section of Santa Monica. He finalized his artistic education by earning an MA in Art from Claremont Graduate School in 1973.

The Art of James Turrell

At first, one would find that categorizing Turrell’s work might not be. At least not as easy as for other artists who have reached that level of international fame and critical acclaim. Often, it’s been spoken about as making light palpable. Turrell doesn’t disagree, but explains his approach: “It’s about perception. For me, it’s using light as a material to influence or affect the medium of perception. I feel that I want to use light as this wonderful and magic elixir that we drink as Vitamin D through the skin—and I mean, we are literally light-eaters—to then affect the way that we see. We live within this reality we create, and we’re quite unaware of how we create the reality. So the work is often a general koan into how we go about forming this world in which we live, in particular with seeing.”[2] Although he was interested in art, his first interest was the light. This interest and fascination with light became fused with the psychology of perception. Further, by adding math – Riemannian geometry, to be precise – (another field Turrell has an interest in), he was able to take things to the next level. “You have to talk about light, and not just light reflected off the surface, which has to do with painting. Rather than making something about light, I wanted something that was light, and that’s the biggest difference.”[3] The artist brought a revolution by distancing the understanding of art as making an object, introducing instead a new meaning – a complete experience in perception. But, not all could find themselves in this kind of work. There were some injuries at shows, and some lawsuits filed. They complained that Turrell’s work made them disoriented and confused. However, it comes as no surprise that not all can enjoy his work. Usually, when coming to an exhibition, the viewer knows where things are and what is real. With Turrell, that comfort becomes stripped away, as his work requires a certain level of surrender – something not all are prepared to do.

Related Artists

As one of the pioneers of the Light and Space movement in the 60s, James Turrell chose the light as his medium, and it has since become a language a number of people can speak rather fluently. Among those gifted artists, several stand out. Robert Irwin (perhaps best known for the Getty Gardens in Los Angeles, an ever-changing, site-specific installation that explores the interplay between light, flora, and water) is an innovator in the Light and Space movement, who began his career as a painter and turned to installation as a means of disposing with medium and object altogether. In 1984, Turrell and Irwin became the first visual artists to receive MacArthur “genius” grants. Olafur Eliasson is another multi-talented artist. He uses natural elements (like light, water, fog) and makeshift technical devices to transform museum galleries and public areas into immersive environments. Dan Flavin, a seminal Light artist, originally struggled for years to find the appropriate medium for his artistic expression. Finally liberated by fluorescent light, he made a radical gesture of using the commonplace commercial fixtures, reconfiguring them into artworks – a feat comparable with Duchamp’s readymades. Ron Cooper works with variously colored fluorescent lights, as well as materials like glass panels, resin, and fiberglass that hold, refract and reflect light. For example, in Floating Volume of Light (1972), Cooper directs two beams of light to cross each other in mid-air, forming a cubic sculpture of light that hovers in space. Eric Cahan is a photographer whose primary themes are skies and oceans. His compositions are far from traditional landscapes – it’s understandable upon a realization that his true subject is the quality and appearance of light at sunrise and sunset. Cahan was actually inspired to begin these works (they share the name Sky Series) after seeing James Turrell’s earthworks at Roden Crater.

Most Notable Series

A piece in Projection Series is created by projecting a single, controlled beam of light from the opposing corner of the room. Shallow Space Constructions are viewed from the rear of a large room in which controlled lighting challenges the viewer’s depth perception. A work from Corner Shallow Space is created in a convex corner; the light creates an illusion of a three-dimensional object. In Wedgeworks, the artist uses the projected light, creating an illusion of walls or barriers. A Veil combines the use of natural and artificial light to create a slowly changing curtain, or veil, of light. A Dark Space is an enclosed room with no seemingly perceivable light. The concept of a Dark Space is not about what one is supposed to see but the experience of what the artist describes as “seeing yourself see.” The Space Division (also called an ‘Aperture’ work) consists of a large, horizontal aperture which appears to be a flat painting or a LED screen but is a light-emitting opening to a seemingly infinite, light filled room beyond. In Ganzfeld, Turrell creates a similar experience of “Ganzfeld”: a German word to describe the phenomenon of the total loss of depth perception as in the experience of a white-out. A Skyspace is a specifically proportioned chamber with an aperture in the ceiling open to the sky. Skyspaces can be autonomous structures or integrated into existing architecture. The aperture can be round, ovular or square. Turrell’s Perceptual Cells Series are enclosed, autonomous spaces built specifically for one person at a time, in which one’s perception of space is challenged by light. A Tall Glass or Wide Glass piece is an aperture within which LEDs are programmed to change slowly over the course of several hours. With an understanding that a hologram is a recording of light waves on a thin layer of transparent gelatin emulsion – in the emulsion is an image that has full parallax. In other words, it appears to have depth from every vantage point. Unlike traditional holograms that depict objects, the Turrell holograms aim to make a hologram of light itself.

When the Notion of Grandeur Becomes a Reality – the Roden Crater Project

The Roden Crater is, without a doubt, Turrell’s most important and ambitious project. Located in the Painted Desert region of Northern Arizona, is an unprecedented large-scale artwork created within a volcanic cinder cone. It represents the culmination of the artist’s lifelong research in the field of human visual and psychological perception, and is a controlled environment for the experiencing and contemplation of light. Being a magnum opus of James Turrell’s career, the piece is designed to be a gateway to the contemplation of light, time and landscape. It functions as a naked eye observatory of earthly and celestial events that are both predictable and continually in flux. Constructed to last for centuries to come, Roden Crater links the physical and the ephemeral, the objective with the subjective, in a transformative sensory experience. Since acquiring the dormant cinder cone in 1977, the artist has ’shaped’ Roden Crater into a site containing tunnels and apertures that open onto pristine skies, capturing light directly from the sun in daylight hours, and the planets and stars at night. The first major phase of construction included the movement of over 1.3 million cubic yards of earth to shape the Crater Bowl and the construction of the 854′ East Tunnel. Six spaces were completed, including two of the most difficult, the shaping of the Crater Bowl and the Alpha (East) Tunnel. The Sun | Moon Chamber, East Portal, and the Crater’s Eye, are joined by the Alpha (East) Tunnel and a connecting tunnel to the Crater Bowl.[4] However, even after almost four decades of work, the projects isn’t completed, and as such, it’s still closed to general public. Only those with special invitations from the artist are lucky enough to experience this masterpiece and fully realize what the art of James Turrell is about.


James Turrell is one of the pioneers of Light Art. He has influenced and inspired countless other artists, not just those who share the same medium. In the end, completely understanding the significance of his entire oeuvre and not meaning to leave anything out, we have to say that Turrell’s greatest legacy is the Roden Crater, his life work. It’s somewhat paradoxical that an artist, who focused on the very essence of light during his career, could leave something as material as his greatest creation. And yet, grand as it is (speaking on a material level), the people often mistake its monumentality. Even though its largeness comes from the existing landscape, the existing physical, environmental landscape, the real power is in its ability to provide an intimate experience to all who are able to see it.

He is represented by Gagosian Gallery, Pace Gallery, and Vogelartedition.

James Turrell lives and works in New York.


  1. Hylton W. S., How James Turrell Knocked the Art World Off Its Feet, The New York Times Magazine [January 25, 2017]
  2. Govan M., James Turrell, Interview Magazine [January 25, 2017]
  3. Ibidem
  4. Anonymous., Roden Crater – About, Skystone Foundation [January 25, 2017]

Feature image: James Turrell – portrait – photo credits Florian Holzherr

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group 
2016James Turrell: Immersive LightThe Long Museum, ShanghaiSolo
2016James TurrellPace Prints, New YorkSolo
2016James TurrellPace Palo Alto, CaliforniaSolo
2016Into the Ether: Contemporary Light ArtistsDayton Art Institute, OhioGroup
2016James Turrell Light ReignfallLos Angeles County Museum of ArtSolo
2016James Turrell: 67 68 69Pace Gallery, 32 East 57th Street and 534 West 25th Street, New YorkSolo
2015LightScape: James Turrell at HoughtonHoughton Hall, Norfolk, United KingdomSolo
20152015 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/ArchitectureM WoodsGroup
2015Chewing GumPace Hong KongGroup
2015EurekaPace Gallery, 508 West 25th Street, New YorkGroup
2015From the Archives: Art and Technology at LACMA, 1967–1971Los Angeles County Museum of ArtGroup
2015James TurrellKayne Griffin Corcoran, Los AngelesSolo
2015James Turrell: From the GuggenheimAten Reign, Häusler Contemporary, ZurichSolo
2014James Turrell from the GuggenheimHiram Butler Gallery, HoustonSolo
2014Roesler Hotel 26# - SpectresGaleria Nara Roesler, São PauloGroup
2014James Turrell: Light SpacesIsrael Museum, JerusalemSolo
2014Sam. St. Moritz Art MastersSt. Moritz Art Masters, St. MoritzGroup
2014Jame Turrell: A RetrospectiveNational Gallery of Australia, CanberraSolo
2014Light ShowHayward Gallery, LondonGroup
2014Summer ExhibitionRoyal Academy of Arts, LondonGroup
2014Re:VisionTrish Clark Gallery, AucklandGroup
2014Roesler Hotel #26: SpectresGaleria Nara Roesler, São PauloGroup
2014Spuren der ModerneKunstmuseum WolfsburgGroup
2014Spectres: Haunted Abstraction and Light Process since 1925Galerie Nara Roesler, São PauloGroup
2014From Picasso to Sol LeWitt: The Artist’s Book since 1950Museum Meermanno, The Hague, The NetherlandsGroup
2014James Turrell: Recent WorksPace London, LondonSolo
2014James Turrell: Prints and ProcessPace Prints, New YorkSolo
20146 Burlington GardensPace LondonSolo
2014The Space Where I AmBlain | Southern, LondonGroup
2013Turn on…Guidi&Schoen - Arte Contemporanea, GenoaGroup
2013James Turrell- Solomon RGuggenheim Museum, New York City, NYSolo
2013Gard BlueSpencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, KSSolo
2013Deep SkyHarry Ransom Center, Austin, TXSolo
2013Projections 1968Häusler Contemporary - Munich, MunichSolo
2013Something Turned Into A ThingMagasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall, StockholmGroup
2013James TurrellThe Pace Gallery - 32 East 57th Street, New York City, NYSolo
2013Sooner Than Later, Roden CraterWilliam Griffin Gallery, Santa Monica, CASolo
2013James TurrellWilliam Griffin Gallery, Santa Monica, CASolo
2013James Turrell: A RetrospectiveLos Angeles County Museum of Art - LACMA, Los Angeles, CASolo
2013James TurrellAlmine Rech Gallery, ParisSolo
2013PrintWoodward Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2013Light ShowHayward Gallery, LondonGroup
2013Farbe Form Fotografie FlächeArt Foyer der DZ Bank Kunstsammlung, Frankfurt/MainGroup
2013The Light InsideMFAH - Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Houston, TXSolo
2013The Other SpaceWentrup, BerlinGroup
2013Setouchi Triennale 2013Setouchi Triennale, TakamatsuGroup
2013Dynamo Un Siecle De Lumiere Et De Mouvement Dans L’art 1913-2013Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, ParisGroup
2013The Collection As A CharacterMuHKA Museum voor Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, AntwerpGroup
2013La persistencia de la geometríaMuseo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo, MUAC, Mexico CityGroup
2012Something Turned Into A ThingMagasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall, StockholmGroup
2012Architektonika 2  -  Hamburger BahnhofMuseum für Gegenwart, BerlinGroup
2012It Happened at Pomona: Art at the Edge of Los Angeles 1969-1973 (Part 3)Montgomery Art Center, Claremont, CAGroup
2012Pacific Standard Time - Kunst in Los Angeles 1950–1980Martin-Gropius-Bau, BerlinGroup
2012Six HologramsDevin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery, Houston, TXSolo
2012Language GamesCentro de Artes Visuales Helga de Alvear, CáceresGroup
2012TransparentLannan Foundation, Santa Fe, NMGroup
2012Dissecting NatureQuint Contemporary Art, La Jolla, CAGroup
2012A WINDOW ON THE WORLD, from Dürer to Mondrian and beyondMuseo Cantonale d´Arte Lugano, LuganoGroup
2012When Does Something Become Something Else?Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MNGroup
2012Refresh: A Selection of Exceptional WorksLisa Sette Gallery, Scottsdale, AZGroup
2012Pictures from the MoonNew Museum of Contemporary Art, New York City, NYGroup
2012PrintsDevin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery, Houston, TXGroup
2012See the Light: The Luminist Tradition in American Art featuresCrystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, ARGroup
2012James Turrell: Trace Elements: Light Into SpaceColorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs, COSolo
2011Exhibition Of Work By Newly Elected Members And Recipients Of Honors And AwardsThe American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York City, NYGroup
2011Licht | KörperHäusler Contemporary - Zurich, ZurichSolo
2011James Turrell: Wedgework VMuseum of Contemporary Art San Diego - MCASD Downtown, San Diego, CASolo
2011James TurrellWilliam Griffin Gallery, Santa Monica, CASolo
2011Highlights of the Peter Blum Edition ArchiveMFAH - Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Houston, TXGroup
2011Contemporary Drawings from the Irving Stenn Jr. CollectionThe Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, ILGroup
2011Phenomenal: California Light, Space, SurfaceMuseum of Contemporary Art San Diego - MCASD La Jolla, La Jolla, CAGroup
2011The Altered Landscape, Photographs of a Changing EnvironmentNevada Museum of Art NMA, Reno, NVGroup
2011Architektonika  -  Hamburger BahnhofMuseum für Gegenwart, BerlinGroup
2011XXX Thirty Years Peter Blum EditionPeter Blum Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2011Second Nature: Contemporary Landscapes From The Mfah CollectionMFAH - Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Houston, TXGroup
2011TRA. The edge of becomingMuseo Fortuny, VeniceGroup
2011Biennale di Venezia - 54th International Art ExhibitionLa Biennale di Venezia, VeniceGroup
2011Venice in VeniceNyehaus, New York City, NYGroup
2011I promise to love you - Caldic CollectieKunsthal Rotterdam, RotterdamGroup
2010James TurrellGalerie Almine Rech - Brussels, BrusselsSolo
2010Plus de lumièreKunstraum Alexander Bürkle, FreiburgGroup
2010Wall InstallationsWilliam Griffin Gallery, Santa Monica, CAGroup
2010Projektion-IllusionKunstraum Alexander Bürkle, FreiburgGroup
2010Collection Exhibition: Invisible Reality21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art - Kanazawa, KanazawaGroup
2010James TurrellGagosian Gallery, LondonSolo
2010James Turrell, Olafur Eliasson, Spencer FinchDickinson, ParisGroup
2010James TurrellDickinson, BerlinSolo
2010Wall & FloorGalerie Almine Rech, ParisGroup
2010James TurrellDickinson Roundell Inc., New York City, NYSolo
20101. Biennale für Internationale Lichtkunst Ruhr 2010Biennale für Internationale Lichtkunst, UnnaGroup
2010ColorFormsHirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DCGroup
2009Wall & FloorAlmine Rech Gallery, ParisGroup
2009American Printmaking since 196Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik, DubrovnikGroup
2009Manmade: Notions of Landscape from the Lannan CollectionNew Mexico Museum Arts, Santa Fe, NMGroup
2009Drawn Toward LightBlanton Museum of Art, Austin, TXGroup
2009MOCA´s First Thirty YearsMOCA Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2009Modélisme  -  FRACLimousin, LimogesGroup
2009La face cachée de la luneGalerie Sémiose, ParisGroup
2009Large HologramsThe Pace Gallery - 534 West 25th Street, New York City, NYSolo
2009Contemporary art is just easy as pieArt Tower Mito ATM, MitoGroup
2009CherryMusée des Beaux-Arts de Dunkerque, DunkerqueSolo
2009Geometrie des LichtsZentrum für Internationale Lichtkunst - Centre for international light art, UnnaSolo
2009The Roden CraterHäusler Contemporary - Munich, MunichSolo
2009The Wolfsburg ProjectKunstmuseum Wolfsburg, WolfsburgSolo
2009The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia: 1860-1989  -  Solomon RGuggenheim Museum, New York City, NYGroup
2009Hot Spots - Rio de Janeiro / Milano - Torino / Los AngelesKunsthaus Zürich, ZurichGroup
2009Yellow and Green - Positionen aus der Sammlung des MMKMuseum für Moderne Kunst (MMK), Frankfurt/MainGroup
2009In-finitumMuseo Fortuny, VeniceGroup
2009California Calling: Works from Santa Barbara Collections, 1948 - 2008 (Part I)Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CAGroup
2008Full House  -  KiasmaMuseum of Contemporary Art, HelsinkiGroup
2008Time & Place: Los Angeles 1957-1968Moderna Museet, StockholmGroup
2008The Big BangMuseo Carlo Bilotti, RomeGroup
2008James TurrellTotal Museum of Contemporary Art, SeoulSolo
2008Modern Prints - Klassische Moderne bis Pop ArtGalerie Proarta, ZurichGroup
2008James Turrell - Light Works 2002-2007Baldwin Gallery, Aspen, COSolo
2008LUMIÈREWentrup, BerlinGroup
2008Images narratives / Narrative imagesCentre Régional de la Photographie - CRP, Douchy-les-MinesGroup
2007100 Jahre Kunsthalle MannheimStädtische Kunsthalle Mannheim, MannheimGroup
200790˚ THE MARGINS AS CENTERAndrea Rosen Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2007Light LeadingsThe Pace Gallery - 534 West 25th Street, New York City, NYSolo
2007James Turrell at Pomona CollegeMontgomery Art Center, Claremont, CASolo
2007Scenes and Sequences - Peter Blum Edition, New YorkAargauer Kunsthaus, AarauGroup
2007To be Continued…Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall, StockholmGroup
2007Refract, Reflect, Project - Light Works from the CollectionHirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DCGroup
2007Light Time and Three DimensionsThe Pace Gallery - 534 West 25th Street, New York City, NYGroup
2007ARTEMPO - Where Times Becomes ArtMuseo Fortuny, VeniceGroup
2007The Tall GlassHäusler Contemporary - Zurich, ZurichSolo
2007Merveilleux! D´après natureChâteau de Malbrouck , ManderenGroup
2006Super Vision  -  ICAInstitute of Contemporary ArtBoston, Boston, MAGroup
2006Singapore BiennaleSingapore Biennale, SingaporeGroup
2006Cosmic WonderYerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CAGroup
2006The Expanded Eye. Sehen - entgrenzt und verflüssigtKunsthaus Zürich, ZurichGroup
2006Invisible MightNyehaus, New York City, NYGroup
2006The Sublime is Now! Das Erhabene in der zeitgenössischen KunstMuseum franz gertsch, BurgdorfGroup
2006James Turrell: New WorkWilliam Griffin Gallery, Santa Monica, CASolo
2006Jannis Kounellis / Richard Long / Mario Merz / James TurrellGalleria Cardi - Milano, MilanGroup
2006Southern California MinimalismLas Vegas Art Museum - LVAM, Las Vegas, NV (closed, 2009)Group
2006A Life in LightLouise Blouin Foundation, LondonSolo
2006Alta WhiteCentre Pompidou - Musée National d´Art Moderne, ParisSolo
2006Los Angeles 1955-1985 The birth of an art capitalCentre Pompidou - Musée National d´Art Moderne, ParisGroup
2005Geometry Sequence RepetitionAlbion - London, London (closed)Group
20058e Biennale de Lyon - Expérience de la durée - Experiencing DurationLa Biennale de Lyon, LyoGroup
2005Take Two - Worlds and Views - Contemporary Art from the CollectionMoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
2005James Turrell: MagnatronHaines Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
2005Transformative SpaceAlan Koppel Gallery, Chicago, ILSolo
2005Exhibition of Indoor CollectionsKirishima Open-Air Museum, KagoshimaGroup
2005Tall GlassGalerie Almine Rech - Paris, ParisSolo
2005Rural and Urban LandscapesGalerie Gmurzynska - St. Moritz, St. MoritzGroup
2005Safe and Warm in L.A.Franklin Parrasch Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2005Overhead / Underfoot - The Topographical Perspective in PhotographyWhitney Museum of American Art, New York City, NYGroup
2005Eye of the Storm: The IMMA CollectionIrish Museum of Modern Art - IMMA, DublinGroup
2005Light Projections 1968 and Light Works 2005The Pace Gallery - 32 East 57th Street, New York City, NYSolo
2004Early Light WorksWilliam Griffin Gallery, Santa Monica, CASolo
2004The LA That Influenced My Eye  -  Sullivan GossAn American Gallery - Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CAGroup
2004Projection Works 1966 - 69Albion - London, London (closed)Solo
2004WOW (The Work of the Work)Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WAGroup
2004IVAMInstitut Valencià d'Art Modern, ValenciaSolo
2004Collection summer 2004MuHKA Museum voor Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, AntwerpGroup
2004The Alteres LandscapePresentation House Gallery - PHG, North Vancouver, BCGroup
2004New HologramsBaldwin Gallery, Aspen, COSolo
2004Autonomous StructuresWilliam Griffin Gallery, Santa Monica, CASolo
2004First Light PortfolioMilwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WISolo
2004Illuminations: Sculpting with LightSmart Museum of Art, Chicago, ILGroup
2004In LightGallery 400 - University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, ILSolo
2003Light and LandSonoma County Museum, Santa Rosa, CASolo
2003The Light WithinHaines Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
2003LegacyAnthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco, CAGroup
2003From Here to There - Maps as MuseHirschl & Adler Galleries, New York City, NYGroup
2003Fall Colors: Group ShowBaldwin Gallery, Aspen, COGroup
2003Knowing LightHenry Art Gallery, Seattle, WASolo
2002HologramsAlbion - London, London (closed)Solo
2002Into the LightThe Mattress Factory, Pittsburg, PASolo
2002The Magic of LightHudson River Museum, Yonkers, NYGroup
2001Eine Lichtinstallation und neue HologrammeHäusler Contemporary, MunichSolo
2001Haus KonstruktivStiftung für konstruktive und konkrete Kunst, ZurichSolo
2001Roden CrarterSaint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MOSolo
20017th International İstanbul Biennial 2001International Istanbul Biennial, IstanbulGroup
2001Digital: Printmaking NowBrooklyn Museum of Art, New York City, NYGroup
2000Dream MachinesVisual Research Centre, Dundee, ScotlandGroup
2000Art/lightGalerie Beyeler, BaselGroup
2000Land Art uswKunstraum Innsbruck, InnsbruckGroup
1999Hi-testGalerie Almine Rech - Paris, ParisSolo
1998Another ArizonaASU Art Museum, Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, AZGroup
1998Space Division and Wedgework, light installationsCentre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, WarsawSolo
1998Where Does the Light in Our Dreams Come From?Setagaya Art Museum, TokyoSolo
1998James Turrell: LightworkOrange County Museum of Art, Newport BeachSolo
1998Spirit and LightContemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TXSolo
1997Silent & Violent: Selected ArtistsMAK Center for Art and Architecture, West Hollywood, CAGroup
1996Northern LightsFruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, ScotlandGroup
1995Between Light and Shadow: The Work of Robert Irwin and James TurrellHerbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca, NYGroup
1994Ghost WedgeAspen Art Museum, Aspen, COSolo
1994Magasin 3 Stockholm KonsthallStockholmSolo
1993Light Projections from the SixtiesAnthony d'Offay Gallery, London (closed, 2001)Solo
1993First Light: Prints by James TurrellSaint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MOSolo
1993AzurFondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, ParisGroup
1993Perceptual CellsCastello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, TurinSolo
1992James Turrell First Light: 20 EtchingsGreg Kucera Gallery, Seattle, WASolo
1992Perceptual CellsWiener Secession, ViennaSolo
1992ParkettCECCH - Centre d'édition contemporaine, GenevaGroup
1992Perceptual CellsKunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, DusseldorfSolo
1992Heavy WaterLe Confort Moderne, PoitiersSolo
1991First light and Catso whiteKunstmuseum Bern, BernSolo
1990First Light SeriesRegen Projects, Los Angeles, CASolo
1990First Light: Twenty Etchings by James TurrellMoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYSolo
1990L'art d'installation : mise en scène de la collection permanenteMusée d´art contemporain de Montréal, Montreal, QCGroup
1982American Painting and Sculpture 74th AnnualThe Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, ILGroup
1980West/East: First Generation Environmental SculpturesMoMA PS1, New York City, NYGroup