Robert Irwin, Light and Space, 2007, 115 fluorescent lights, one wall, 271 1/4" x 620." Collection Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, museum purchase with funds from the Annenberg Foundation, 2007.47 © 2021 Robert Irwin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Museum Exhibitions

Robert Irwin

Light & Space

Dec 3, 2021 – Sep 4, 2022
Copenhagen Contemporary

On view through September 2022 at Copenhagen Contemporary, Light & Space features both historical and brand new works from the American light and installation art movement that emerged in Los Angeles in the 1960s.

In the former factory halls of the B&W shipyard, visitors to Copenhagen Contemporary can look forward to exploring a variety of monumental works pushing the boundaries of the artwork and the viewer's perception across scales and materials - from Robert Irwin's over 16-metre-wide and 8-metre-tall work illuminated by 115 fluorescent tubes to James Turrell's immersive Aftershock – one of his celebrated Ganzfeld works, made specifically for this exhibition, enveloping the guest in an infinite space of light and atmosphere.

In postwar Southern California and Los Angeles, the artists of the Light and Space movement experimented with many of the new industrial materials derived from technological innovations. Searching for new artistic opportunities and expressions, they started collaborating with California's growing aerospace industry and with researchers at the University of California, where cross-pollinating experimentation with light, space and materials was taking place.

Fibreglass, epoxy and coated glass made it possible to create sleek, reflective surfaces, paving the way for a new style of art that expanded the traditional categories of painting and sculpture, changing how we experience art. The new materials that became available in the postwar years triggered explorations of space and light. In turn, the Light and Space artists in various ways contributed to a radical shift in art, away from a focus on object and meaning to an awareness of how art and space is experienced with the body. This shift has influenced generations of artists and architects ever since.

Light & Space presents large historical installations alongside new works by the younger generation of contemporary European artists, all exploring the creation of space through light and illuminated materials. The innovations and experiments that the Light and Space artists introduced in the second half of the 20th century have inspired many of today's leading architects and artists. The movement's members blazed a trail for European artists like Anish Kapoor, Olafur Eliasson, AVPD, Ann Veronika Janssens, Jeppe Hein and many others.

Highlighting connections between art from the American West Coast and contemporary European art across time and place, the exhibition offers fresh perspectives on the often-overlooked affinities between the Light and Space movement and today's phenomenologically oriented European art.

Learn more on (opens in a new window) Copenhagen Contemporary's website.

  • Museum Exhibitions — Robert Irwin in "Light & Space" at Copenhagen Contemporary, Dec 3, 2021