Light and Space (2007) being looked over for the first time by Robert Irwin at MCASD
are still talking about Robert
Irwin's awesome Primaries and Secondaries retrospective at MCASD
I called it the best show of the year and the fact that people are still pouring
over it is a good indication of why. Simply meeting Irwin and hanging out with
him as he finished a piece for the first time was pretty much life altering
(something Irwin probably does with astonishing regularity)... leading me consider
things like non
hierarchical fields and the experience of space
in a different way on a
very personal level
The fact that he turned to Arcy and I and asked what we thought was also extremely
informative. Irwin is the brightest human being come across to date... hands down.
I've met at least 6 other MacArthur
or Nobel Prize winners + a couple of impressive astrophysicists and Irwin stands
I bring all this up because there is a ridiculous pejorative that follows Irwin
around like this quote from the New
York Times calling him, "California's most radical light and space artist.
I agree that he's the most radical (Turrell has become too quasi religious and
too close to spa-like experiences as of late) but his contributions go far beyond
that California centered movement. He's probably the most influential artist
alive today. Without him you don't have Eliasson
or other "phenomenological experience
. This begs the question, where is Irwin's comprehensive retrospective
at MoMA, Whitney, MOCA, MCA or the Walker? Can you imagine 30-50 of his very
displayed in relation to one another? I can (the Portland Art
Museum has a nice one even).
I think a major retrospective would end the ghettoization of Irwin as purely
an influential feature of West Coast culture. Truly, I doubt his importance
is questioned on a global scale but it needs better acknowledgment. I also think
it can only be done properly with his input so lets say some museum in LA, New
York or Chicago finally steps up to plate eh?
Hell, it was about time ten years ago. He has been a huge influence on my work, and I have been working on some ballpoint drawings that are directly referencing his discs.
His work doesn't suffer from the warm, fuzzy Manifest Destiny Romanticism often associated with West Coast artists of his era.
I would certainly be making the trip to MOMA for a retrospective.
After the Turrell lecture at PNCA you stated that Turrell was getting a little too "new agey." I still love the guy, but I couldn't agree more. Perhaps it is time for Irwin to take his place in the sun (no pun intended).
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