Robert IrwinLight and Space
05 Dec 2021 - 30 Jan 2022
A newly commissioned, site-conditioned installation at Kraftwerk Berlin
An experience that invites viewers to immerse themselves in Irwin's experiments with light and space.
Light and Space (Kraftwerk Berlin) is LAS’ newly commissioned and site-conditioned exhibition by renowned American artist Robert Irwin presented at Kraftwerk Berlin. For over five decades, Irwin’s oeuvre has been driven by his continuous inquiry into human perception and use of space. A pioneer of Light and Space, a loosely affiliated art movement related to Minimalism and geometric abstraction that originated in Southern California in the 1960s, Irwin is one of the most prolific artists to have emerged from that scene. His practice moved from early Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s to observation-based Minimalist painting, sculpture and wall-objects in the 1960s, before finally leaving the studio and object-centric practice altogether in 1970 for a strictly site-conditioned approach in which he conceived his art as closely shaped by the conditions of the surrounding space. The core tenets of his practice then came to the fore, favouring experiential relationships with built environments including museums and galleries, parks, gardens and other urban settings; Irwin began to work more extensively with fluorescent light.
Irwin’s Light and Space series consists of fluorescent light tubes in abstract, rhythmic yet undecipherable patterns spread on white walls with a high finish. Apart from being the largest work of its kind in Europe, this new iteration Light and Space (Kraftwerk Berlin) for the first time combines white with blue-coloured fluorescent light tubes – these are positioned on either side of a monumental 16x16 metre freestanding wall. With this work, Irwin combines his interest in Abstraction’s potential for a vision devoid of any precise object, alluding to his painterly experiments of the 1960s, with his more recent examinations of the conditions of colour perception.
The exhibition is a testament to Irwin’s ability to transform a space: he intervenes in Kraftwerk’s notable brutalist architecture to create an experience that invites viewers to immerse themselves in his experiments with light and space, challenging our perceptions and how perception can extend beyond a work of art, or, as the artist puts it: ‘How art structures the way we see the world.’
Robert Irwin (b. 1928, Long Beach, CA) lives and works in San Diego, CA. Solo exhibitions include those at Pratt Institute School of Architecture (2019), University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach (2018), Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC (2016), Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2010), Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (2007), Dia Center for the Arts, New York (1998), Musée d’art contemporain, Lyon (1998), Reina Sofía, Madrid (1995), Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris (1994), Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne (1994), and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1993). Since the early 1970s, Irwin has created site-conditioned installations and major architectural and environmental installations at institutions worldwide, including Chinati Foundation, Marfa, TX (2016), Dia:Beacon (2015), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2013), Vienna Secession (2013), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2010), and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2009).
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Light and Space (Kraftwerk Berlin), 2021 Site-conditioned double-sided freestanding wall with 240 white fluorescent lights and 240 blue fluorescent lights 16.2 × 15.8 × 2.4 m Light + Shadow + Reflection + Color Commissioned by LAS (Light Art Space)