Irwin / Reduction

A Robert Irwin groupie poses with the artist after his talk last night at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center at SDSU.
She's really an art professor at SDSU, but there was a line of fans waiting to get their pictures taken with Irwin.  

Poster for Ferus Gallery's The Studs exhibition, Los Angeles, 1964. The photo on the right is Billy Al Bengston, 
Allen Lynch, Robert Irwin, Craig Kauffman, John Altoon, Ed Kienholz, and Ed Moses, Los Angeles, 1958

Some things never change. At 85, Robert Irwin is still a stud (see photo above).

Untitled, 1961

Irwin's talk focused on his artistic journey of reduction, beginning with his abstract expressionist phase. 
The end product would be to get to the point of "pure energy".

Image: Christie's 

Untitled, 1964

The reduction progresses.

Image: Christie's 

Untitled, 1966. Oil, dots on canvas with bowed wood frame

Now the lines are gone and he curves the canvas so the edge drops away out of the viewer's consciousness.

Untitled , 1969-1970. Acrylic lacquer on formed acrylic plastic

Questioning the notion of the square painting.

Image: Pace Gallery

Robert Irwin and James Turrell inside the anechoic chamber at UCLA, 1969. 

At this point, Irwin with other artists like Turrell, were locking themselves in rooms void of light, sound and motion. They would 
then get together to compare notes on their individual experiences. This exploration of stimulus and environment also 
included a project with NASA. Irwin hosted a cross-disciplinary group of scientistsengineers and medical experts. 
Small groups were placed in various rooms configured to make them aware of different aspects of space and light.  The end 
result was a lesson on environment.  

Image:  Malcolm Lubliner and Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica. © Malcolm Lubliner Via Getty

Untitled, 1971. Synthetic fabric scrim, wood, fluorescent lights, floodlights

By 1970, with the first public showing of a scrim piece at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), Irwin's focus was on
installation art that alters one’s perception of space.

Line Rectangle, World Trade Center, New York 

Image: 1977 Whitney Catalog on their Robert Irwin Retrospective

1° 2° 3° 4°, 1997. Installation at MCASD - La Jolla

“Rather than compete with this view, Irwin came up with a way to harness that beautiful vista for his perceptual purpose,” 
wrote MCASD director Hugh M. Davies in the book “Robert Irwin: Primaries and Secondaries” (2008)

At the talk, Irwin said this is one of his favorite pieces.

Source: SDUT. Photo by Pablo Mason

Getty Garden, 1992-1997

Irwin said prior to this, he had never planted a single plant. Not bad for his first garden. 
He also said the museum's architect ,Richard Meier, hated the garden design.

Irwin made a couple comments about architects.  The first was that they have to be businessmen and therefore
the vision is not pure. The second was about architects who get the chance to design a major museum.  He said they usually
end up doing their clients a disservice because they focus on making a grand architectural statement at the expense of 
creating a great building to view art in.   

Recently, as documented by my poor cell phone image, Irwin designed this landscape sculpture for a the Federal courthouse in 
downtown San Diego. In the lobby there is also an acrylic prism he made in the 70's that has finally found a home. I haven't
made an attempt to get past security to see it yet. 

All That Jazz , 2011. Light + shadow + reflection + color

Has the work been reduced to "pure energy" yet?

Image: Pace Gallery

Robert Irwin's white board

Irwin taught art at Chouinard, UCLA and UC Irvine. Ed Ruscha was in one of his drawing classes.  
In a Smithsonian oral history interview Ruscha said Irwin had "a painting style all to himself, and he had an aura, a definite 
aura--probably the strongest aura of any teacher that I was around--and I wasn't even around him that much." 

After just one short lesson from Irwin, I feel the same way.