James Turrell's Newest Skyspace Is on the Grounds of a Chic Uruguay Hotel

The renowned light artist arrives in José Ignacio.

Views of Ta Khut, James Turrell’s newest Skyspace in Uruguay
Views of 'Ta Khut,' James Turrell’s newest Skyspace. Photo: From left: COURTESY OF POSADA AYANA; TALI KIMELMAN/COURTESY OF POSADA AYANA

With its boutique beach resorts and sand-floored restaurants spread along an idyllic stretch of windswept Uruguay coastline, José Ignacio has long been one of the most desirable escapes in South America. But thanks to a new structure built to view the stars, this former fishing village is also in the spotlight of the international art world.

In late 2021, James Turrell unveiled Ta Khut (his first freestanding Skyspace on the continent) on the grounds of Posada Ayana, a new 17-room hotel just steps from José Ignacio's Mansa Beach. Commissioned by the property's owners, Robert and Edda Kofler (who encountered the artist's work at the James Turrell Museum in Salta, Argentina), the temple-like structure is topped with a 20-foot dome — made of nearly 90,000 pounds of white marble, sourced from the Laas Valley in Italy's South Tyrol — nesting inside a grass-covered rectangular structure.

Exterior of Posada Ayana, a new hotel in José Ignacio, Uruguay
Posada Ayana, a new hotel in José Ignacio, Uruguay. MARCOS GUIPONI/COURTESY OF POSADA AYANA

Turrell says he was inspired by the ancient Egyptians, and their reverence for light, in the creation of the work: visitors walk through towering lapacho-wood doors into a Merlot-granite passageway, as if entering the inner chambers of a pyramid (or the earth itself). Inside they'll find a blue-marble relief of the Galactic Center, the brightest portion of the Milky Way, embedded in the floor — then, on a clear night, look up to see the same galaxy framed through Turrell's oculus.

To book: posada-ayana.com; standard rooms from $405.

A version of this story first appeared in the December 2021/January 2022 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline Eye to the Sky.

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