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PRINT March 1979

Robert Irwin’s Bar Paintings

IN THE SEMITROPICAL MICROCOSM THAT the West Coast art community might seem to be, compared with the mundus patris of Paris/New York, I imagine Robert Irwin to occupy an historical position analogous to Hans Hofmann.The native German lived through and participated in the major artheavals of his immediate world: Post-Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism (of a sort), and Abstract Expressionism. He made a substantial contribution to his last affiliation, Abstract Expressionism, and expanded it toward another mode, the color painting of the 1960s on. Irwin experienced and labored within the styles of his surroundings—Lebrunesque figuration, Abstract Expressionism, color painting, the “L.A. Look,” and environmental/installation art, pushing those last two developments toward their respective frontiers.

But Irwin, in a strategic sense, occupies a larger territory: his work has helped, for better or

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