About the James Turrell installation inside the Louis Vuitton store at CityCenter

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Louis Vuitton at Crystals
To make an appointment, call 739-8520

There was a moment at a Las Vegas Art Museum gala in 2007 when a James Turrell-led tour of the “Roden Crater” project was up for auction, and you could actually see the twinge in the faces of those who didn’t top the final bid of $35,000. Making it worse was the dreadful reality that there was no Turrell in Las Vegas to visit as a concession. The artist’s “Gard Red” had been on display in 2005 at Godt-Cleary Projects on Main Street, but that exhibit came and went.

So, when the Louis Vuitton store at Crystals began quietly giving tours of its new commissioned installation by James Turrell last month, it became the worst-kept secret in town. Members of the art community were literally brushing shoulders as they shuffled in and out for the private, appointment-only tours.

This, after all, is Turrell’s largest “ganzfeld effect” — an immersive sensory experience that alters perception. Titled “Akhob,” it fills the store’s entire fourth floor, sealing in visitors the moment they emerge from the elevator into the dark reception area to sign a multi-page liability waiver (in case anyone slips off a ledge that could easily be mistaken for infinity or, more practically, a floor-to-ceiling wall).

The experience inside the two-chamber space has been called heavenly and spiritual, but “pure” might be the best way to describe the full immersion in monochromatic, uninterrupted, slowly changing color inside a curved empty room as pristine as the interior of an eggshell. Perception disappears and the far end of “Akhob” seems like a ledge into eternity.

It’s another phenomenal achievement by the 70-year-old, LA-born light and space artist, whose solo exhibit opens at the New York Guggenheim Museum in June, with a retrospective at Los Angeles County Museum of Art scheduled for later this month. While appointments are required for “Akhob,” another Turrell, to be unveiled this month at Crystals, is much more accessible. It involves flooding the Crystals monorail station with light in conjunction with the train’s arrivals and departures.

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