James Turrell’s fascination with the sculptural properties of light led him to purchase land with a 400,000-year-old extinct volcano near Flagstaff, Arizona. Known as the Roden Crater, this has become the major focus of Turrell’s investigation of our relationship with the cosmos. Over the course of three decades, he has created a series of tunnels and viewing chambers to frame the open sky. The largest of these chambers is the crater of the volcano itself, from which (in the words of the artist) “the entire sky will look like the inside of an enormous dome.” This photo-documentation of the project demonstrates Turrell’s careful plotting of the site and his plans to modify the natural form of the volcano in order to map the celestial geometry of the heavens.

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James Turrell, American, born 1943
Site Plan Roden Crater
Photo-emulsion, wax acrylic, and tushe on Mylar
Image: 38 3/8 × 60 1/16 in. (97.5 × 152.5 cm) Frame: 39 1/2 × 61 1/8 in. (100.3 × 155.3 cm)
Credit Line

Museum purchase funded by the Caroline Wiess Law Accessions Endowment Fund, The Manfred Heiting Collection

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number

[Manfred Heiting, Malibu, California]; purchased by MFAH, 2002.