Meet the collector opening a James Turrell museum in the Andes

NEW YORK. Swiss art collector and vintner Donald Hess is building the first museum dedicated solely to the work of James Turrell. Nestled in the foothills of the Andes Mountains in northwest Argentina, the 18,000 sq. ft exhibition space will be inaugurated in early 2009 with a selection of nine permanent light installations, two series of prints and a group of drawings representing five decades of the artist’s work.

Located on the grounds of the Estancia Colomé, a 19th-century wine estate, the Turrell Museum will be situated 7,600 ft above sea level. Mr Hess, who has been collecting work by the artist for the past 30 years, has commissioned two new pieces for the museum: Unseen Blue, the world’s largest Skyspace with a 15 ft wide aperture in the roof; and Spread, a 4,000 sq. ft walk-in environment of blue light. Other works include City of Arhirit, (1976); Slant Range (1989); Alta Green (1968); Wedgework II (1969) and Penumbra (1992).

Mr Hess is an avid collector who started buying paintings directly from Francis Bacon and Robert Motherwell in the early 1960s. He says: “I collect about 20 artists at a time and I have about 15 to 30 works by each.” His holdings include art by Frank Stella, Anselm Kiefer, Gerhard Richter, Leopold Maler, Per Kirkeby, Andy Goldsworthy and Magdalena Abakanowicz, among others.

Mr Hess displays works from his 1,000-piece collection at three of his five wineries including the Estancia Colomé.

According to Roberto Ceballos, curator at the Hess Collection winery in Napa Valley, California, the gallery rotates its collection of about 200 works in its 16,000 sq. ft exhibition space. He added that South Africa’s Glen Carlou estate shows mainly African art including work by Ouattara Watts and Deryck Healey in its 6,000 sq. ft gallery space. Mr Hess, 71, also owns Peter Lehmann Wines in Australia and Artezin Wines in the Napa Valley.

Charmaine Picard

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