Prince of Light

How artist James Turrell conquered the heavens

Sebastian Kim for TIME

For almost five decades James Turrell has been making art that's literally impossible to grasp. He works with "materials"--light, sky, perception itself--that are weightless and boundless, the stuff of the sublime and the infinite. His most famous work, the immensity-in-progress that is Roden Crater, is nothing less than an extinct volcanic cone in northern Arizona that Turrell, 70, has spent decades transforming into a multichambered, naked-eye celestial observatory, an enterprise so hilariously vast, it's like a natural phenomenon itself. As he once described it, "I wanted to really work with large amounts of sky." What other artist could even say a...

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