Leonardo: The Man Who Walked in Color

By Stephen Petersen

The Man Who Walked in Color (Georges Didi-Huberman)In his slim but densely structured philosophical study, which takes the form of an extended fable, Georges Didi-Huberman explores the visionary quality of James Turrell’s work in both its spiritual and phenomenological dimensions. Written in 2001 and translated here into English, the book begins where it ends, with Turrell’s massive, decades-in-the-making, still unfinished, and perhaps impossible project the Rodin Crater, an ancient volcanic mountain in the Arizona desert with a series of experiential chambers designed to present natural light phenomena with infinite subtlety for viewing over protracted periods of time. Didi-Huberman’s first chapter is a meditation on the Book of Exodus as an analog to Turrell’s own wandering quest through the desert and the artist’s rejection of the graven image in favor of a faith in the power of a vision shown only in its absence, demanding a sort of sacrifice and a waiting.

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