Mattress Factory receives major gift from artist James Turrell


By Justin Criado

James Turrell, one of the world’s most highly regarded living artists, has donated a Skyspace artwork to the Mattress Factory in Central Northside. The gift, which is estimated to be worth at least $1 million, is the largest from an artist in the museum’s 39-year history, according to a press release.

“This work will not only be an incredible contribution to the Mattress Factory, but also to the city of Pittsburgh,” Barbara Luderowski, museum co-director and president, said in a statement.

turrell-portraitShe added that with the museum’s 40th anniversary approaching in 2017: “This will enable the institution to prepare for the future while remaining a leader in the contemporary art world.”

James Turrell’s Skyspace works are specifically proportioned chambers with an aperture in the ceiling open to the sky. The aperture can be round, oval or square, and Skyspaces can be autonomous structures or integrated into existing architecture.

Turrell has created 86 of these works in 29 countries in the Americas, Europe, and Asia in private and public spaces, with the first made in 1974 for Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo at his home in Varese, Italy. Turrell previously created a temporary Skyspace for the Mattress Factory’s 25th anniversary celebration in 2002. The new Skyspace will be custom designed for the museum, and will be permanently installed.

The Mattress Factory has a long history with the artist, and was one of the first museums in the United States to permanently install Turrell’s work. Between 1983 and 2002 the organization has shown 17 Turrell works, and currently has three pieces on view permanently.

“It’s an honor to receive a piece from someone whom we’ve worked with for over 30 years,” Michael Olijnyk, Mattress Factory co-director, said.

The Mattress Factory Board of Directors is in the early stages of determining the feasibility and scope of a capital campaign that will be needed to fund the installation of the new Turrell work.
No timeline has been announced. For more information please visit the official website.

Information from the Mattress Factory was used in this story

Photo courtesy of

Northside Chronicle Donation