The artist James Turrell's falling out with his former dealer in London has led to a lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan that includes an unusual request: that a federal judge order Mr. Turrell to get to work on an uncompleted series of installations.
The series at issue, titled "Tall Glass," involves projections of "a light field" within a room, according to legal papers. Although Mr. Turrell's London dealer, Albion Gallery, sold nine of the works in the series to prominent art collectors and investors — including the publisher of Art + Auction, Louise MacBain, and a New York hedge fund manager, Israel Englander — Mr. Turrell ultimately only produced one of the pieces, that was purchased for $580,000 by Ms. MacBain, according to the civil complaint.
Albion Gallery, which is run by Michael Hue-Williams, sued in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, saying it had been denied its 50% commission on the other pieces, which all told sold for more than $3.3 million. The legal papers seek a court order requiring Mr. Turrell to "produce and deliver the Tall Glass works" for several of the clients who have not yet canceled their orders, according to the legal papers that were filed by Peter Stern of the firm McLaughlin & Stern.
Mr. Turrell, who is best known for light installations and for the ongoing transformation of an extinct volcano in Arizona, has countersued, claiming that Albion sold his works without his permission. He is now represented by the New York gallery PaceWildenstein.
Mr. Turrell's countersuit, filed by Gregory Clarick of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP, accuses Mr. Hue-Williams of showing a prototype of the "Tall Glass" series to prospective buyers and museum curators without Mr. Turrell's permission.