Light and Space Art

As one of the defining members of the Light and Space movement that originated in Los Angeles in the 1960s, James Turrell is an American artist whose work plays with the relationship—the idioms, clichés, oppositions—of light within space.

By using light projection, apertures in ceilings and walls, and even skywriting, Turrell creates work that has been hailed as profound, elemental and meditative.

James Turrell Guggenheim

With a bi-coastal retrospective taking place now, the veteran artist’s work couldn't be more current. At the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Turrell bathes Frank Lloyd Wright’s un-ending spiral rotunda in a variety of hues (pictured above).

At LACMA, Turrell’s installations (pictured below) are more rectangular, saturating space in light to such a degree that the movement of museum visitors (rather than the artist's illuminated rooms) become the subject of the work.   

Turrell LACMA Installation

James Turrell LACMA

Turrell has also done a series of residential commissions. The residential siting of these works gets up thinking about how use light artistically, not just functionally, in the home space. For this, we turn to the Tono floor lamp from Koncept: 

LED multicolor lamp

Koncept Tono Contemporary Floor Lamp

The Tono caught our attention at the recent Dwell on Design show. The 48 1/2 inch high Tono uses adjustable LEDs, allowing it to cycle through a rainbow of colors or hold on a single color to match or establish the ambiance of any given room.

For a more hands-on project, use under cabinet lights for something besides cabinets. Tuck an easy-to-install tape light kit behind bed headboards or book shelves to give the furniture the appearance of floating against the wall. These kits come with a remote control allowing you to adjust the colors as desired.

Colored Tape Light

Color 16.4-Foot LED Tape Light Kit with Remote Control

Not everyone will have the time, budget or vision of James Turrell, but that shouldn't preclude you from using light to adjust ambiance of your space. And if the above options are too much for your taste, go with the time-tested mood-maker: simply outfit a candleholder with a scented candle, grab a book of matches, and light.

Images: Architect Magazine, Artsy