Robert Irwin

  • Environment designed by Robert Irwin for the First National Symposium on Habitability, Venice, CA, 1969. Photos: Malcolm Lubliner.

    Robert Irwin

    THE WHOLE “ART AND TECHNOLOGY” program was a red herring. But it was actually very successful for me, because I took a different tack. At that time, around 1968, when the Los Angeles County Museum of Art was organizing this project and exhibition, I had already gotten rid of my studio and had essentially put myself out in the middle of nowhere. It was as if the whole floor of my activity had fallen out. So I thought what was really interesting about the prospect of “A&T” was not just to go to some industrial firm and produce a one-off piece, as other artists in the program were doing, but rather

  • Robert Irwin, Freeway Monument, 1977. Photographic documentation of proposed site. All works by Robert Irwin © Robert Irwin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.


    Enveloped in fields of glow and shadow, viewers of Robert Irwin’s signature sculptures and installations never know quite what they are seeing. And yet they are made acutely, surprisingly aware of their own perceptual faculties, their bodily tics and errors and their leaps of sense. It’s for this reason that Irwin’s practice is famously aligned with the Light and Space movement of the 1960s and ’70s. In the decades since, however, the artist has also focused on large-scale interventions into public sites, from the celebrated J. Paul Getty Museum garden to the master plan at Dia:Beacon. These


    TOO OFTEN, TOO MANY of us talk one theory but live another. In his rigorous examination of the possibilities of perception, and his always renewed wonder before the world and the open act of seeing, Robert Irwin’s career exemplifies the committed, moral, nondogmatic union of theory and practice. In his current traveling retrospective, as installed at Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art this summer, the viewer experienced his most recent work first; but the exhibition also featured a selection of Irwin’s early Abstract Expressionist–inspired works (including a wonderful display of his “