Online Gaming Billionaire Joins Kanye West in Donating Millions to James Turrell’s ‘Roden Crater’

Online Gaming Billionaire Joins Kanye West in Donating Millions to James Turrell’s ‘Roden Crater’

Over the past four decades, artist James Turrell has worked to transform a dormant volcano in the Painted Desert of Arizona into his Land art masterwork: Roden Crater, a observatory that’s already been the site of media attention and a short film by Kanye West. Now the project, which has so far fundraised over $40 million, has received another major contribution towards its long-sought goal.

On Thursday night, Pace Gallery and Kayne Griffin Corcoran, both of whom are showing works by Turrell at Frieze Los Angeles, cohosted a star-studded party for the artist, attended by the likes of Museum of Contemporary Art director Klaus Biesenbach, noted collector and actor Leonardo DiCaprio, and pop star Grimes, who staged a surprise performance. At the event, billionaire entrepreneur Mark Pincus, the founder of the online gaming firm Zynga, announced a $3 million pledge to Turrell’s newest creation, which will turn the volcano into a transcendent installation filled with colorful lights.

“The project itself feels, to me, like modern-day pyramids,” Pincus told the Los Angeles Times. “The ambition and scale and scope of it is something that has the potential to be something that people, many generations from now, will be able to experience and get something amazing from—maybe something beyond what we can imagine today.”

The long-delayed crater is currently closed to the public, as its opening has been contingent on fundraising. In 2019, West donated $10 million after shooting his film Jesus Is King inside the site. That same year, Arizona State University announced a partnership with Turrell and the non-profit Skystone Foundation, which oversees Roden Crater, to help him raise $200 million within two years. In return, the crater will be integrated into the university’s academic programming. Turrell also gives tours of the two-mile-wide crater’s tunnels and viewing chambers at $6,500 per person, to raise funds.


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