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100 Highlights
of the MFAH
© James Turrell
American, born 1943
The Light Inside
Neon and ambient light

132 x 246 x 1416 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Museum commission, gift of Isabel B. and Wallace S. Wilson

Arts of North America

In the mid-1960s James Turrell pioneered a new concern with the phenomena of space and light, often referred to as the Light & Space Movement. Turrell sought not to depict light but to use light itself as his material, and his earliest works investigated the effects of artificial light. He also developed a number of installations that heightened the relationship between light and the architectural frame.

The MFAH commissioned Turrell’s The Light Inside for the underground tunnel linking the museum's Caroline Wiess Law Building with the Audrey Jones Beck Building when the latter opened in 2000. The Light Inside turns the walls of the tunnel into vessels for conducting light. An expanded version of his earlier explorations of light in his Shallow Space Construction series, Turrell’s The Light Inside is an all-encompassing environment.

Transcending the traditional confines of built spaces, The Light Inside acts as both a passage and a destination. The raised walkway guides visitors forward and gives them the sense of floating in space, while the changing cycle of illumination (which shifts from blue, to crimson, to magenta) further invites contemplation. The Light Inside makes the experience of moving between the Law and the Beck Buildings not only an exploration of light and space, but also a profound and awe-inspiring experience.