Art Talk - Turrell at Guggenheim: Heroic or Disappointing?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Get ready for a summer of light. Literally. 

James Turrell's light show at the Guggenheim Museum opens on Friday and it promises to be the art event of the summer.

And it will come with some debate. Art critic Deborah Solomon said it's "radiant and heroic." But fellow critic Lee Rosenbaum called it "disappointing."

"I love it because I think it re-attaches American art to large themes like nature, and the sky, and if you are someone who likes to look at sunsets, this is the sunset brought in-doors," said Solomon.

Rosenbaum responded with: "This one left me flat. The changing colors are beautiful, but it's almost like a discotheque," she said.

Art critics Lee Rosenbaum and Deborah Solomon in front of the Guggenheim museum

What do you think about the work of James Turrell? Leave a comment below, and click on the audio link above to listen to the whole interview with Solomon and Rosenbaum.

Hosted by:

Soterios Johnson


More in:

Comments [6]

Howard Mandel from New York City

The Turrell show overall was the biggest disappointment I can recall from 45 yrs of attending museums. I'm a music critic, not an art critic, but having read the advance articles about this man's work, I was expecting a lot. The delivery was nil. Aten was not a genuine version of his big pieces, we learn. Ok. But closing the rest of the rotunda to feature the three other installations, which were restrictive and minimalist rather than immersive, made it seem like the Guggenheim had taken the summer off. I took younger viewers with me, and could not defend against "emperor has no clothes" critiques.

Aug. 18 2013 11:52 AM
Lua Solar from Curitiba, Paraná, Brasil

I wish I could see it live, I am following/seeing the images and some videos and I feel it’s like an immersion in the purity of light – it’s a place to let your body vibrate along the different colors wavelengths. These sensations also remind me about the healing properties of colors, and it seems transcendent, meditative, it’s like I could travel light itself through its range of changing frequencies.
My impressions. Lua.

Aug. 02 2013 03:54 PM

It was stupid.. maybe if someone had told us what it was supposed to look like we would have gotten something out of the exhibit, but as it was it was like yup. its a light..

Jul. 24 2013 08:43 PM
Lee Rosenbaum

More about Turrell at the Guggenheim on my CultureGrrl blog:

Jun. 21 2013 06:01 PM
Lee Rosenbaum

Brian, the context in which Turrell's major pieces are viewed certainly matters. Instead of relating to nature, "Aten Reign" is interacting with Frank Lloyd Wright and our feelings about that building. A key factor (and concern) is, as you call it, the "energy" of NYC and the large crowds who will flock to that light space. Lucky you, to have communed with Turrell in that remote Argentinian location!

Jun. 21 2013 10:19 AM
Brian Scott from new york, ny

There is a museum dedicated to his work in Argentina at the Colome Winery. The remote location adds to the wonder and I am interested to see if the energy here in NYC will affect the experience.

Jun. 21 2013 07:55 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


Latest Newscast




WNYC is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation: Because a great city needs an informed and engaged public


Supported by