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James Turrell's "Three Gems" Open during Friday Nights!

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Image: James Turrell, Three Gems, ca. 2005. Concrete, plaster, stone, and LED lighting. FAMSF, foundation purchase, gift of Barbro and Bernard A. Osher, 2003.68. Photography by FAMSF

Image: James Turrell, Three Gems, ca. 2005. Concrete, plaster, stone, and LED lighting. FAMSF, foundation purchase, gift of Barbro and Bernard A. Osher, 2003.68. Photography by FAMSF

Barbro Osher Sculpture Garden

Visit James Turrell's Three Gems in the Osher Sculpture Garden during its optimal viewing time—at night!

In 2014, artist James Turrell (b. 1943) contacted the Museums to review Three Gems, the “skyspace” sited in a grass-covered hill in the Osher Sculpture Garden. The work was approaching its tenth anniversary at the de Young, having been installed during the opening of the museum’s new building in 2005.  

Turrell’s work often challenges assumptions about space and perception. Three Gems achieves this in part through the lighting system installed inside its chamber and the opening in the domed room, which frames the sky outside and highlights the changing atmospheric conditions. The experience of the work reflects Turrell’s observation that “we are dwellers at the bottom of the ocean of air.”

The artist and several members of his team visited the installation in July of 2014 and requested alterations. Turrell asked to replace the existing system of neon lights with LEDs, which produce more intense lighting and are more energy efficient. The new LED lights are turned on approximately forty minutes before sunset and begin to change colors twenty minutes later. In total, the program lasts for seventy minutes, with the lighting returning to white for the final half hour.

In addition to the lighting alterations, the concrete bench in the skyspace was patched and painted, the installation’s domed “stupa” re-surfaced, the stone floor cleaned, and the ceiling repainted. The Museums worked with Fong & Chan Architects and Swinerton Builders, the original construction team, to design and implement the changes.

Visitors to Three Gems are now better able to experience the often subtle, occasionally dramatic effect of this artwork, and to appreciate Turrell’s observation that “light is not so much something that reveals, as the revelation itself.”

Ticket Information

Programming and general admission to the permanent collection galleries are free of charge during Friday Nights at the de Young. A $20 surcharge applies to visit the special exhibition galleries.


Contact Information

Mitzi Mathews
mmathews@famsf.org
(415) 750-7694

Sponsors

Support for Friday Nights at the de Young is provided by Hanson Bridgett, the Koret Foundation, and Wells Fargo Foundation. During Friday Nights, funding from The Hearst Foundations makes possible free general admission to the permanent collection galleries. The media sponsor is the San Francisco Chronicle.