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,