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Eight Decades decanter by James Turrell

James Turrell designs sculptural whisky decanter to celebrate 80th birthday

American artist James Turrell has created Eight Decades, a limited-edition glass decanter made with French glassware brand Lalique that draws on "Egyptian forms".

Turrell, who is best known for his large-scale light installations, designed the bottle as a celebration for his 80th birthday on 6 May.

Whisky decanter by Lalique
The decanter was designed to celebrate James Turrell's 80th birthday

The decanter features a deep-blue pyramidal stopper referencing Egypt and "its monuments in which light served ceremonial purposes", according to Lalique.

The artist also wanted the Eight Decades decanter, which is sold filled with whisky from the Glenturret distillery, to nod to the two perfume bottles that he created for Lalique last year.

Whisky bottle by James Turrell
It has a blue stopper and a violet neck

"I wanted it to have the same sensibility as the perfume bottles," Turrell told Dezeen. "It is the fusion of two universes where the strength and weight of the bottom of the decanter move to the 'Anda' shape of the shoulders"

"A tribute to Egypt – pyramids and stupas – these architectural forms are cross-cultural with Egyptian forms," he continued. "They move something deep within me."

Turrell Eight Decades decanter
The artist drew on "Egyptian forms" for the design

The bottle has a square base that widens as it rises to form rounded "shoulders" on which the bottleneck sits. This was injected with violet crystal in a pale hue that contrasts the deep-blue stopper.

Though his collaborations with Lalique represent a different type of work to his light pieces, Turrell says there are similarities and connections between his designs and those of René Lalique, who founded the glassware brand.

"I recognise artistic affinities with René Lalique, who was also known as sculptor of light," Turrell said.

"Yes, but they are on a different scale. I was impressed by all of his works, especially the carafe stoppers with their outstretched wings," he added.

"The figure of the angel, both literal and metaphorical, inspired René Lalique. I relate it to spiritual questions of a broader scope. His celestial interests are like mine."

Whisky decanter by Lalique
Eight Decades will be sold in a bespoke case

Creating the bottle proved challenging for Lalique, as the brand had to ensure the crystal was evenly distributed so that it would be transparent enough to "magnify" the whisky inside.

Glenturret selected whisky from eight different casks to reflect different "facets of the eight decades of James Turrell's life, his character and vocation", the brand said.

Detail on Eight Decades decanter
It was designed together with Lalique and Glenturret

According to the artist, working with glass was similar to working with light.

"Crystal holds light like water," he said. "Water is spirit and crystal is liquid; that is, glass is equally liquid masquerading as a solid. Water and crystal become a holder of light and spirit."

The Eight Decades decanter, which is sold in a bespoke case, comes in a limited edition of 80 bottles.

Among Turrell's recent artworks is the "transcendent" Skyspace installation in the Rocky Mountains.

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James Turrell Eight Decades
James Turrell Eight Decades
James Turrell Eight Decades