Robert Irwin

Untitled (four walls)

In October 2006 Chinati presented a large temporary installation and an exhibition of drawings by Robert Irwin. Irwin’s oeuvre, much of which has been created exclusively for temporary situations, is one of the most innovative and influential in contemporary art. Throughout his career, Irwin has developed work in response to specific architectural settings. He has created visually stunning installations by altering sites in subtle ways that emphasize certain spatial characteristics while dissolving others. A number of years ago Irwin began work on a permanent installation for Chinati at the site of a former U.S. Army hospital dating from the 1930s. In anticipation of that project, and to share with Chinati’s audience the many steps that lead to a realized work, the museum inaugurated two exhibitions at the 2006 Open House: one featuring Irwin’s working drawings and another installation using space, light, and scrim.

The drawings record Irwin’s evolving concept for his permanent project at Chinati made over the last three years. The artist also created a special installation for the museum’s large temporary U-shaped exhibition space. Using floor-to-ceiling-length “walls” of translucent white and black scrim, as well as window-tinting film, Irwin transformed the space into a unified-yet subtly changing—experience of light and space.

Robert Irwin was born in 1928 in Long Beach, California and lives and works in San Diego. He has “responded to” numerous sites and venues internationally. His works include the Central Garden at the Getty Center in Los Angeles (1997) and the redesigning of a former Nabisco factory to create the Dia:Beacon museum in upstate New York (2003). Other solo museum exhibitions include the Whitney Museum of American Art (1977), the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1990), the Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, Germany (1994), and the Dia Center for the Arts, New York (1998–99).