New York is the home of many great art exhibits. But every now and then, there is a show that gets everyone talking. That’s been the case with the current exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue and 92nd St.
There was a small a short line outside the museum to enter on this sunny and crisp late summer afternoon. While some of the visitors may have been New Yorkers, the place was filled with tourists, many foreigners, as indicated by the melodies of various native tongues.
I went with my husband and daughter as part of a “family outing.” After paying our $22 per person, we entered the ground floor rotunda. Usually you can see all the way to the top of the building where a domed skylight brings light that fills the whole space. The winding ramps create an interior spiral. But this was where the focus of the exhibit, the work by James Turrell, was centered.
Turrell’s medium is light and color. When you enter the rotunda and look up, the space above you feels flattened and filled with concentric rings of progressive color. There were mats in the center of the floor and we waited our turn until we were able to lie ourselves down on the mat and look up.
As we gazed up at the ceiling, the color changed so slowly that it was almost in perceptible. Gray went to green and then to clear blues. We watched a long time as the reds and oranges evolved in the display above us. The color edges began to blur and the shape became more oval. I felt the vibration penetrate my skin and the energy was so powerful that I rocked on my feet a bit as I got up. It was a little like being inside a Mark Rothko painting.
I tried to understand how this impression was created by such a dimensional space and we ascended to the top of the museum and walked down the ramps. They were devoid of any other exhibits. We realized that all the openings over the railings that usually provide a vista of the whole museum down to the ground floor (where we had lain on mats looking upward) were covered with a white stretchy fabric that enclosed them. I don’t know how he embedded the lighting fixtures nor how he created the colors, that remains a mystery. It was magic!
Here is one of my pieces that plays with the interaction of colors and blurs the boundaries.
Has color ever affected your vision and your being?