For his first US museum survey outside of California for 40 years, this new exhibition displays Robert Irwin’s work from 1958-1970, a time in which the artist developed dramatically. Initially creating small-scale abstracts before moving into large acrylic disc and column painting, and finally abandoning studio work altogether in favour of ephemeral, site-specific installations, Irwin has been highly influential in developing an understanding of art as a perceptual experience.
The survey moves through Irwin’s groundbreaking series of hand-held and pick-up-sticks paintings, from early to late line paintings, aluminium to acrylic discs and columns, which began his exploration into refocusing the habituated eye.
Irwin sees art as conditional, and his minimal interventions such as tall clear acrylic columns, seek to interrupt vision and set up a brief and phenomenological experience. The artist has said that ‘the pure subject of art is human perception’ and ‘colour has the ability to put life in inanimate situations,’ seeing art as determined by the viewer and situation rather than acting autonomously.
Accordingly, this exhibition culminates in a major new commission in the Hirshhorn’s galleries using his signature material: employing 100ft of scrim, or gauze, to square Gordon Bunshaft’s distinctive spherical architecture.
Robert Irwin: All the Rules Will Change, 7 April – 5 September, Smithsonian Institution Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden MRC 350 PO Box 37012 Washington DC.
For more, visit www.hirshhorn.si.edu.
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1. Robert Irwin, Bed of Roses, 1962. Private collection.