July 14, 2013

Robert Irwin in conversation with Jennifer Winkworth

Exhibition talk

Robert Irwin, who since the early 1970s has been conceiving “site-conditioned” works, has developed an installation for Secession’s main exhibition hall, which responds to the volume of the space, and its specific lighting.

Irwin began his career as a painter in the 1950s and became the pioneer of the Californian “Light and Space” in the 1960s. He subsequently abandoned the idea of art as a structured object and his artistic approach has been shaped by an unending engagement with human perception ever since. The context, the characteristics of the environment in which an artistic work is presented and beheld, plays a defining role for the conception of his installations. To date, Irwin has conceived almost 60 site-conditional projects. His work has been presented in numerous solo exhibitions worldwide, among others at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Louisiana Museum of Art, Humlebaek; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; at Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne; at the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris; the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; at Dia Center for the Arts, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; at White Cube, London and at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

Robert Irwin, born 1928 in Long Beach, California, lives and works in San Diego, California. He has been represented by Pace since 1966. (www.pacegallery.com)

Jenniger Winkworth (formerly Jennifer Licht) was curator for painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York from 1964 to 1977 where she conceived the legendary exhibition series Spaces (1969-70) and Projects (1971-73). Within this context Robert Irwin realised Fractured Light–Partial Scrim–Eye Level Wire (1970), his first site-conditioned installation and a turning point in his work. For the series of solo exhibitions curated by Winkworth, Spaces and Projects, artists such as Michael Asher, Larry Bell, Dan Flavin, Robert Morris, Franz Erhard Walther, Mel Bochner, Richard Long, David Tremlett, Carl André, and Barry Flanagan developed installations.

She accomplished groundbreaking research on topics like Land Art, Conceptual Art, Futurism, and Constructivism. During the 1980s and 1990s, when Winkworth returned to her hometown London, she was on the council of the Contemporary Art Society, associated with the Tate Gallery. She has been living in France since 2000. A close collaboration connects her with the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain in Nizza for which she proposed a Wall Drawing by Sol LeWitt that now covers the museum’s façade.

An event of the Friends of the Secession