The Art of Light – James Turrell Brings LED Light to the Guggenheim

Aten Rein

A rendering of James Turrell’s ‘Aten Rein,’ which uses LED lights and make use of sunlight from the museum’s skylight. (Source: James Turrell/Andreas Tjeldflaat/Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

One of the world’s most renowned artists working with light, James Turrell, is transforming New York’s Guggenheim museum with LED light.  The exposition, “Aten Rein,” opened on June 21 and runs through September 25.  The exhibit, six years in the making, will transform the museum itself into an exhibit of light using LEDs.

Aten Rein uses LEDs to light the rotunda of the iconic architectural landmark designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  Turrell takes the natural light from the museum’s huge glass skylight and the museum’s unique shape to bathe the central rotunda area of the museum in a mixture of natural and LED light.  LEDs illuminate the five rings of the rotunda in bands of changing colors.  You can see how the column of light forms in the photo.

According to Turrell in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, the name Aten Rein comes from the ancient Egyptian deification of light.  During the reign of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, the Aten became the principle god of ancient Egypt.  Aten was the name for the sun itself. Turrell, world famous for his exhibitions in light, is also the subject of simultaneous retrospectives at The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, TX and The Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, CA.

For Further Reading

Wall Street Journal, Iconic Museum Seen in a New Light,

The Architectural Record, James Turrell at the Guggenheim,

The New York Times, How James Turrell Knocked the Art World Off Its Feet,

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About Beth

It seems like LEDs are in everything these days – backlighting everything from your mobile phone, Apple iPad and flat screen HDTV to traffic lights, light bulbs and even the kitchen sink. But, making LEDs is a complex process that begins with the creation of sapphire. Not the pretty blue gemstone, but large commercial crystals that can weigh as much as 400 lbs. Once these large sapphire crystals are grown into boules and cooled, they’re cut into cores, cut further into flat circular wafers, polished and then used to grow LEDs. About 85 percent of HB-LEDs (high brightness) are grown on sapphire. There’s not that much information out there about the process. This blog is meant to shed some light (excuse the pun) on sapphire, LEDs and the industry that is devoted to making our lives just a little brighter. In the months ahead, we’ll tackle some topics that will help you understand a little more about sapphire and LED industry. Here’s a sample of what we’ll cover in the coming months: • Growing sapphire • For a wafer, size matters • Quality - When sapphire wafers go bad • LED light bulbs • Market & myths • Interviews with industry shining stars • Reports from industry events • Current events in perspective Please join us each week to learn more about sapphire and the LED market. We look forward to seeing you.

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