I met Reinhardt at a lecture at the Pasadena Museum in which he defined art. He tightly defined what the artist was, such that John Altoon shouted from the back, “Now wait a second here it seems like you are defining art like you are the only artist there is.” And then Reinhardt said, “You know, I think you have a point there.” I think that part of the investigation of perception I was involved in came through Reinhardt. I don’t know what his personal message was, or how he did all that he did, but the work was quite remarkable, and you know he was looking at his paintings for a long time, and under different light conditions.
Reinhardt is one of the great underrated artists. The dark color coming out of darkness is amazing in his work. They suggest a different way of looking—glazed eye seeing. Like when you look into the fire in the fireplace, and you sort of drift off. Looking at the Grand Canyon, you can take a picture here, and then here, and then here, and then over here. They are all equal. Agnes Martin also had this. For her it was a vision of the Southwest where everything is stared at and equal because there is no particular place of focus. In a way it’s also what Jackson Pollock did in his all-over drip paintings.
Adapted from an interview with Alex Bacon, September 2013.
JAMES TURRELL is an artist based in Los Angeles, New York, and Arizona.