Chinati announces new work by Robert Irwin

Chinati Foundation Announces Major New Work by Robert Irwin

The Chinati Foundation is pleased to announce a much-anticipated addition to its permanent collection—a large-scale installation by Robert Irwin.

After years of development, plans for the Robert Irwin project are complete and construction will begin in early 2015 with an opening anticipated for 2016.

Irwin, who turned 86 this year, is widely recognized as one of the most innovative and respected artists of our time. The installation at Chinati—a large, U-shaped construction approximately 10,000 sq. ft.—will be the only freestanding structure designed by Irwin and devoted exclusively to his work.

Chinati’s announcement is further occasioned by the generosity of Vernon and Amy Faulconer of Dallas, who are giving the Chinati Foundation a gift of $1 million: $500,000 will support the Irwin project and $500,000 will support operations at the museum. The Faulconers will share the news Sunday night at The Warehouse art space in Dallas.

“I have had the pleasure of experiencing Chinati’s collection for many years. It has expanded my understanding and appreciation for art profoundly,” says Vernon Faulconer, who has been on Chinati’s board for nine years. “Judd did things his own way and it hasn’t been easy out there in Marfa. But I’ve always believed in the underdog and Amy and I are happy to support this unique institution. Irwin’s project is really something, quiet yet spectacular, and it will certainly change the art landscape in Texas,” he concludes.

Irwin was among a group of West Coast artists who, in the late 1960s, began expanding ideas of art through explorations into the nature of materials, light and perception itself. The project at Chinati will offer an important context for Irwin’s work, situating a permanent installation among his peers—artists including Judd, John Chamberlain and Dan Flavin who, as likeminded colleagues, entered into dialogue with Irwin and his work.

Chinati’s board chair Andrew Cogan explained, “Chinati is at an important place in its history and the Irwin project will deepen the experience of art at the museum. Judd collected Irwin’s work and expressed an early desire to see his art represented at Chinati. Only now are we able to accomplish this aspect of Judd’s vision for Chinati.”

“We are honored to complete this project for Bob, to support a permanent masterwork of his singular shaping of light and space here at Chinati. It will be unlike any other permanent work by Irwin,” adds Jenny Moore, executive director of the Chinati Foundation. “We are extremely grateful to Vernon and Amy, our board, and the early donors who have already generously committed to the Irwin project and given our fundraising campaign such momentum.”

The Faulconers’ donation joins other major gifts to the Robert Irwin project campaign. The Lannan Foundation has given a matching grant of $750,000 to inspire other leadership gifts. John P. de Neufville, founder of Voltaix, Inc., John Walsh, Director Emeritus of the J. Paul Getty Museum, and Jill Walsh have together given a $250,000 matching gift to support an endowment for the Irwin work.

When completed in 2016, Robert Irwin’s project for Chinati will be the first major addition to the museum’s permanent collection since the 2004 opening of a gallery devoted to the paintings of John Wesley, another artist long admired by Donald Judd.

This new installation by Robert Irwin is an artwork in the form of a building with an interior installation. It will be situated on the site of the former hospital for Fort D.A. Russell at the edge of Chinati’s grounds on the outskirts of Marfa. Irwin’s design follows the footprint of the existing structure and preserves elements particular to it. The work will be experienced in halves, with one side of the building dark and the other light. Irwin’s subtle interventions will enhance the visual experience and include the use of long transparent scrim walls in black and white, as well as window films that manipulate and frame the changing light conditions that occur throughout the course of the day.

The Artist

Robert Irwin is considered to be the most influential figure among a generation of artists based in California who investigated light and space, using the experience of these ephemeral elements as the expressive foundation of their art. Irwin began as an abstract painter before becoming deeply engaged in pushing the boundaries of art as the experience of perception itself. He creates work he calls “conditional”: installations that deal directly with light and space, organized to enhance our awareness of spatial and environmental situations.

Irwin was first captivated by Marfa, Texas while driving across the U.S. in 1971. In 1999, the Chinati Foundation extended an invitation for him to create a major work for the museum.

The Central Garden at the Getty Center in Los Angeles (1997) and Two Running Violet V Forms, at the University of California, San Diego (1983) are among his many remarkable installations. Upcoming exhibitions include the reinstallation of Irwin’s Excursus: Homage to the Square3 at Dia:Beacon. Recent exhibitions include the reinstallation of Scrim Veil—Black rectangle—Natural Light at the Whitney Museum of American Art and Double Blind at the Vienna Secession. The artist was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1984 and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation medal in architecture by the University of Virginia School of Architecture in 2009.

More about the Robert Irwin project may be viewed here.