Category Archives: Robert Irwin

Epiphany

January 6 is Epiphany, the last ‘Day of Christmas.’  In many cultures, it is a day of celebration, marking the visitation of the wise men, the magi, to the baby Jesus.  The wise men revealed the divinity of the baby Jesus to the world.

The Magi Journeying, Tissot, 1886-1894, Brooklyn Museum

The Magi Journeying, Tissot, 1886-1894, Brooklyn Museum

The Cambridge English dictionary defines epiphany as a moment when you suddenly feel that you understand, or suddenly become conscious of, something that is very important to you.

The Art Caravan’s theme for this year, 2017, came as a ‘mini’ Epiphany when writing the posting about Robert Irwin’s 1°2°3°4°.  Speaking about his installation, Irwin said,

And here it’s like I am saying, you know the kind of attention you have been taught to lavish on a Renaissance landscape within its as-if window frame, try lavishing that sort of attention on the world itself. In fact, get rid of the window. Just experience the world!

The Art Caravan will be doing its best to experience the world this year.  Off we go!

 

 

Days of Christmas continued…..

Today we are leaping from the Renaissance, in Italy, to installation art in southern California as we continue to celebrate the days of Christmas.

One of my favourite Robert Irwin pieces is 1°2°3°4°. ( I’ve written about Irwin here and here.)

1° 2° 3° 4°, Robert Irwin, 1997, photo by T. Vatrt

1° 2° 3° 4°, Robert Irwin, 1997, photo by T. Vatrt

1°2°3°4° is a semi-permanent installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego.  It’s an excellent example of a site specific work of art, which looks deceptively simple:  three squares of glass removed from the windows.

1° 2° 3° 4°, Robert Irwin, 1997, photo by T. Vatrt

1° 2° 3° 4°, Robert Irwin, 1997, photo by T. Vatrt

1° 2° 3° 4°, Robert Irwin, 1997, photo by T. Vatrt

1° 2° 3° 4°, Robert Irwin, 1997, photo by T. Vatrt

1° 2° 3° 4°, Robert Irwin, 1997, photo by T. Vatrt

1° 2° 3° 4°, Robert Irwin, 1997, photo by T. Vatrt

Listen to what Irwin says about his work:  And here it’s like I am saying, you know the kind of attention you have been taught to lavish on a Renaissance landscape within its as-if window frame, try lavishing that sort of attention on the world itself.  In fact, get rid of the windowJust experience the world!

….now you’ve taken the frame and sort of bent it, which just brings that even into more focus, it turns out that before it was slightly out of focus, but now, bang, it snaps into focus, becoming completely pictorial while in fact being the opposite of pictorial, which is to say experiential, because on top of everything else now you get the sounds drifting in from outside, and the soft breeze blowing, the whole thing becoming truly four dimensional.  (from page 270-271, seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees by Lawrence Weschler.)

Experience the world!  They are inspiring words for the new year.

 

 

Location, location, location!

If you’re a regular reader of The Art Caravan, you know I can’t say enough good things about the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (La Jolla).  (You can read my post from April 2014 , Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla.)

My last visit came with a bonus:  the showing of Robert Irwin’s installation 1°2°3°4°.  It’s part of MCASD’s permanent collection.  (You might also know that I’m rather fond of Robert Irwin, and his work that explores ideas of  perception.)

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Yes!  These are openings cut into the windows facing the Pacific Ocean.  The installation is oddly compelling.  Granted, it’s a pretty spectacular view (!), but 1°2°3°4° does cause the viewer to experience the artwork in a different way.  More of our senses are engaged besides the stunning visual:  the feel of the breezes, the scent and sound of the ocean, and the reality of the framed image.  (The glass is tinted, and  makes the view exposed by the opening appear more real….more immediate.)

If you’re in the area, it really is worth the effort to visit this gallery.  (The cafe closes at 3 p.m., so plan accordingly.)

 

Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees

Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees is both a quote from Paul Valery, and the title of a book by Lawrence Weschler.  Weschler has written an extremely readable biography of the contemporary artist, Robert Irwin.

The book was first published in 1982,  In February 2009 it was re-issued with six more chapters, and 24 colour plates.

Weschler’s real strength as a writer is his ability to explain complex ideas in an engaging, entertaining fashion.  Robert Irwin’s art breaks boundaries, and challenges the traditional notions of the art world.  Weschler develops an organization for the book that clearly outlines the progression of ideas in Irwin’s art work.  He provides an intelligent analysis, and explains ideas simply, but not simplistically.

Weschler asks great questions, and allows Irwin to speak for himself. Irwin comes across as completely honest, and very articulate.  I love what he says to students:  “….they are responsible for their own activities, that they are really, in a sense, the question, that ultimately they are what it is they have to contribute.  The most critical part of that is for them to begin developing the ability to assign their own tasks and make their own criticism in direct relation to their own needs and not in light of some abstract criteria.”

Irwin (partially) supported himself by gambling at the racetrack.  I’m not a gambler, but I’d bet that after reading this book you’ll never look at another contemporary art installation in quite the same way.

 

 

Robert Irwin in La Jolla

It was another pleasant surprise to discover Robert Irwin‘s presence in La Jolla.  Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue III,  was originally a site-specific installation in London, England in 2013.  The original installation was photographed by Phiipp Scholz Ritterman, and is now presented as a mural. Quint Contemporary Art is featuring an exhibition of several new works by Robert Irwin.   The works, exploring light, shadow, reflection and colour, are shown off to their advantage in this space. Along with the installation at the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, it’s a Robert Irwin buffet feast in La Jolla, California! I’m looking forward to reading Irwin’s biography, Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees  by Lawrence Weschler.

Athenaeum Music & Arts Library….

…..is another treasure I stumbled upon in La Jolla, California.  Imagine!  A library devoted to art and music….a little piece of heaven.

Located in a beautiful building downtown, the library is full of surprises: racks and racks of art and music periodicals to enjoy, a cozy children’s book corner, a collection of first edition Caldecott Medal book winners, an extensive collection of Artist’s Books, as well as — bonus! — a new Robert Irwin  installation, Palladium (light, shadow, reflection, colour) on display.

The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library is not only a wonderful place to hang out, but it is also a great organization.  Besides art classes, lectures and public readings, several concert series are on offer.  We were fortunate to catch a jazz concert featuring the trumpeter Randy Brecker with Peter Erskine on drums.

It’s great to know that this non-profit, membership library is thriving.