For over six decades, Robert Irwin (b. 1928, Long Beach, California) has explored perception as the fundamental issue of art. Irwin, who began his career as a painter in the 1950s and became a pioneer of the “Light and Space” movement in the 1960s, has, through a continual breaking down of the frame, come to regard the role of art as “conditional”—working within and responding to the specific surrounding world of experience.
Irwin has conceived over fifty-five site-conditional projects, including the Central Gardens for the Getty Center, Los Angeles (1992–98) and the architectural and grounds design for Dia:Beacon, New York (1999–2003). His large-scale permanent installation at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas (2001–16) is the first free-standing structure devoted exclusively to his work. Irwin received the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1976, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur “Genius” Award in 1984, and was elected as an Academician at the National Academy in 2012.
New York—Pace is pleased to announce Cacophonous, an exhibition of Robert Irwin’s new light works. Cacophonous will be on view at 534 West 25th Street from April 10 through May 9, 2015. An opening reception for the artist will be held Thursday, April 9, 2015, 6 to 8 p.m. A new catalogue will accompany the exhibition.
Since the 1960s, Irwin has emphasized experience as an extension of the perceptual. The pioneer of the Light and Space movement in Southern California, Irwin’s work draws focus to ambient environmental conditions, making them palpable by heightening the viewer’s awareness in the context of the work.
For his exhibition at Pace, he has produced eight works that advance his use of fluorescent light, a material he first used in the 1970s. Irwin installs rows of columnar lights, coating the different tubes with colored gels that alter the transmission of light. Other tubes remain unlit taking some advantage of the reflected light. The walls, as well as the contiguous elements that constitute the piece, are perceived as a whole. The physical materials are subordinated by the phenomenological effects of light, shadow and reflection.
Irwin has previously exhibited site-conditioned fluorescent works the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Pace London, where he presented Piccadilly in 2013, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, which includes one in its permanent collection. On June 1, a new version of Irwin’s site-conditioned installation Excursus: Homage to the Square3, originally presented in New York between 1998 and 2000, will open at Dia Center for the Arts, Beacon, NY, where it will remain on view through May 2017.
In 2016, his new permanent installation for the Chinati Foundation in Marfa is slated to open. Irwin will modify an existing building of the former army fort, installing films and scrims along the windows to create a gradation of the natural light. It is the first major installation added to the Chinati Foundation since 2004. The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, will present Robert Irwin: All the Rules Have Changed from April 7 to September 5, 2016. Highlighting works produced between 1958 and 1970, this is the first museum survey to focus on Irwin’s landmark early studio practice. The year 2016 also marks the fiftieth anniversary of Pace’s representation of Irwin.
Robert Irwin (b. 1928, Long Beach, CA) grew up in Los Angeles and studied at some of the region’s premiere art schools: Otis College of Art and Design (1948–50), Jepson Art Institute (1951) and Chouinard Art Institute (1952–54). He later taught at the latter school as well as the University of California, Los Angeles, and developed the graduate program at the University of California, Irvine, where he taught a vital generation of artists that includes Larry Bell, Chris Burden and Vija Celmins. Irwin is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship (1976), a five-year MacArthur Fellowship (1984–89) and a Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture (2009).
He has had more than seventy solo exhibitions at institutions including The Museum of Modern Art (1970–71); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1976, 2009–10); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1977, 2013); Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (1997, 2007); and Dia Center for the Arts, New York (1998–2000). In 1993 the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, organized a retrospective of his work that traveled to Kölnisher Kunstverein, Cologne; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid. He has also designed permanent site-conditional and landscape works for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; and the Stuart Collection, University of California, San Diego. He designed the grounds and architecture for the Dia Center for the Arts, Beacon, NY, and the lush Central Gardens at the J. Paul Getty Center, Los Angeles.
His work is included in numerous public collections worldwide including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; the Art Institute of Chicago; Centre national d’art et de culture Georges Pompidou, Paris; Dia Art Foundation, Beacon, NY; The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Whitney Museum of American Art, among others.
Robert Irwin lives and works in San Diego, CA. He joined Pace in 1966, and this is his eighteenth exhibition at the gallery.
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Two exciting projects for Robert Irwin have been announced for the upcoming year. For the past fourteen years, Robert Irwin has been developing a major new work for the Chinati Foundation’s permanent collection that will finally be unveiled in 2016. Robert Irwin: All the Rules Will Change a major exhibition runs April 7–Sept. 5, 2016, at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. It is the first museum survey devoted to Irwin’s work from the pivotal decade of the 1960s, as well
Robert Irwin’s site-conditioned installation, Excursus: Homage to the Square³ is now on view at Dia:Beacon through May 2017. Originally presented at Dia Center for the Arts in Chelsea from 1998 to 2000, this new iteration is Irwin’s first installation for Dia:Beacon, for which he designed the master plan. The gallery’s layout is defined by floor-to-ceiling scrims that create a maze-like installation that, coupled with the colored gels Irwin has coated the windows and fluorescents lights with,
“There are simple, obvious questions if you follow the thread. But they are damn good questions—you can live a lifetime with them. That’s basically what I’ve been doing.” —Robert Irwin The Wall Street Journal’s Andy Battaglia praises Robert Irwin's philosophical minded approach to art in his new exhibition at Pace, Cacophonous. Irwin has been experimenting with art as an extension of perception and transcendence since the 1960s. Read the full article here. Robert Irwin: Cacophonous is on vie
2015. Pace Gallery. Paperback
44 pages: 14 color illustrations; 9 x 12 ¾ inches