Also commissioned for the de Young is a new work of art by renowned California artist James Turrell (b. 1943), best known for his visionary work with light. Created specifically for a site in the new de Young’s Osher Sculpture Garden, it is a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Osher. This “skyspace,” titled Three Gems, is the first work by Turrell to enter the museum’s collections. It is a subterranean installation that will feature a view of the sky altered by L.E.D. lighting effects, and that highlights changing light and weather conditions outside.
Although Turrell has created other skyspaces, his project for the de Young will be his first skyspace to adopt the stupa form. The sculpture will be sited in a grass-covered hill in the Osher Sculpture Garden. Viewers will walk through a short tunnel cut into the hill, and then enter into a cylindrical space carved out of the hill. The retaining walls of this cylindrical space will be white concrete and the floor will be red stone. At the center of this cylindrical space will be a rough-hewn, black basalt stupa form. Entering the round stupa through a door, viewers will sit on a stone bench that runs around the circumference of the skyspace and view the sky through an oculus cut in the roof of the chamber. Viewers’ perceptions of the sky color will be subtly altered by an L.E.D. lighting system inside the chamber, and by changing light and weather conditions outside the chamber.