Ethereal and evocative, the art of Light and Space pushes the viewer beyond the everyday limits of perception. It takes many different forms and uses many different materials, ranging from natural daylight and scrim to glass, plywood, neon, and fire. It taps into far-ranging ideas and systems of knowledge, including alchemy, Buddhism, aerospace technology, witchcraft, astronomy, physiology, and phenomenology.
Written by the foremost authority on the subject and based on more than two decades of research, The Art of Light and Space is the first book to provide an overview of this powerful and increasingly public art form. With rare photographs, extensive artist interviews, and her own insightful observations, Jan Butterfield vividly documents the history of this diverse and sometimes elusive work.
Following a useful introduction that succinctly places the art of Light and Space in the larger context of modern art, the book is divided into ten chapters, each focused on one artist: Robert Irwin, James Turrell, Maria Nordman, Douglas Wheeler, Bruce Nauman, Eric Orr, Larry Bell, DeWain Valentine, Susan Kaiser Vogel, and Hap Tivey. Insightful portrait photographs by Jim McHugh open each chapter and capture the quirky individuality of these inexhaustibly creative men and women. The innovative graphic design emphasizes the artists own words, both in sidebars and in the text, making their voices unusually accessible.
No two artists have followed the same path, but in many cases the work has become increasingly approachable in recent years. Architects and urban planners have begun to incorporate Light and Space installations into public spaces ranging from the Old Post Office Building in Washington, D.C., to the new building in Pasadena, California. Corporate, nonprofit, and private collectors have commissioned numerous major works, including a solar fountain in Denver, a tea house in Paris, and a fire-and-steam sculpture on a busy Los Angeles street corner.
The processes of creating the works seen here are as intriguing as the final results, and all are illuminated by the text, the illustrations, and the design of this provocative, invaluable volume.
Jan Butterfield is currently head of Access, a consulting firm for artists in Santa Monica, California. Previously she was executive director of Lapis Press and public relations director for the Fort Worth Art Museum and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. A well-known art critic, she has contributed to Art in America, Artnews, and many other publications; she is also the author of numerous catalogs.
Jim McHugh, who is a contributing photographer with People magazine, lives in Los Angeles and has been photographing artists for the last ten years.