Robert Irwin

A Desert of Pure Feeling

In theaters and available to stream on Amazon and Apple TV beginning October 20, 2023

Published Wednesday, Sep 27, 2023

On October 26, 2023, the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) will present the European premiere of Robert Irwin: A Desert of Pure Feeling, a feature documentary about legendary California light and space artist Robert Irwin, whose decade-spanning career has profoundly influenced generations of artists.  Additional screenings at the ICA will be held from October 27, 2023. Book tickets and learn more (opens in a new window) here.

He began as a charismatic painter in LA’s late 60s “cool school” scene, then turned his back on the art world for nearly a decade to pursue pure dialogue, philosophy, and experimentation.  As Irwin explored the nature of materials, light, and perception itself, he made his living as a gambler at the racetrack and as a beloved teacher, nurturing the talents of a diverse group of now-famous artists including Chris Burden, Ed Ruscha, and Vija Celmins. 

In an art world  dominated by spectacle, Irwin’s installations transform our experience of being in the world using the simplest of materials. His unconventional – and often ephemeral – projects  resist categorization and defy commodification; “catching lightning in a bottle” is the artist’s favorite metaphor for what he does.   From his early experiments with biofeedback to his dazzling experiential installation in Marfa, Texas, Irwin's career has been defined by radical gestures that investigate the value of human sensory experience in a world that is becoming increasingly mechanized. 

A Triptych Films Production
Director / Editor: Jennifer Lane
Producers: David Hollander, Jennifer Lane, Joseph Cashiola, Arne Glimcher
Executive Producers: Carolyn Pfeiffer, Nancy P. Sanders, David Koh, Nicole DiMiceli
Cinematography: David Hollander, Joseph Cashiola, Joan Churchill, Layton Blalock, Rick Siegel, Alan Barker, Jennifer Lane, Loic DeLame, Jon Coleman
Featuring interviews with Robert Irwin, Terry Allen, Larry Bell, Ed Bereal, Irving Blum, Paul Comstock, Tara Donovan, Laddie Flock, Richard “Bernie” Francis, Arne Glimcher, Marc Glimcher, Joe Goode, Michael Govan, Evelyn Hankins, Barbara Haskell, Joseph Huppert, Jeff Jamieson, Jim Martinez, Jessica Morgan, Helen Pashgian, Ed Ruscha, Matthew Simms, Marianne Stockebrand, Joan Tewkesbury, Doug Wheeler, Lawrence Weschler, and Fred Wilson

(opens in a new window) For more information on A Desert of Pure Feeling, click here.

  • Films — Watch the Trailer for "Robert Irwin: A Desert of Pure Feeling", Sep 27, 2023