On View at the Whitney: Scrim veil-Black rectangle-Natural light

East
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
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Robert Irwin (b. 1928), Scrim veil—Black rectangle—Natural light, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1977. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Photograph © Warren Silverman, 1977

Robert Irwin (b. 1928), Scrim veil—Black rectangle—Natural light, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1977. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Photograph © Warren Silverman, 1977

This summer, the Whitney Museum of American Art will reinstall a work for the first time since its original conception in 1977. Robert Irwin (b. 1928) formed the large-scale Scrim veil-Black rectangle-Natural light, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, especially for the Emily Fisher Landau Gallery almost four decades ago. The exhibition was central to Irwin’s career, as it determined the path for his ensuing practice, and will now be on display for the second time from June 27 to September 1, 2013.

The work accentuates the Whitney’s renowned Breuer building and the natural light that reaches the interior from the single Madison Avenue window. Irwin’s installation involves a partially transparent white scrim weighted down by a black metal bar. The system is suspended from the ceiling and hangs five and a half feet above the floor, spanning 117 feet across the room. A thin black line mirrors the bar and borders the gallery walls. The elements accentuate the setting and sway visitors’ observations of the Museum’s fourth floor.

In concurrence with the exhibition, the Whitney will digitize the 1977 exhibition catalogue and make it accessible online. It will contain images, plans, and information assembled by the 1977 exhibition’s curator, Richard Marshall. The updated report will include a new introduction by Whitney Chief Curator Donna De Salvo. Photographs and drawings associated with the display will be located in another fourth-floor gallery.

Robert Irwin is a native of Long Beach, California and studied at the Otis Art Institute and the Chouinard Art Institute, where he trained in Abstract Expressionist painting. He was invited to join the Ferus Gallery in 1958, but soon after he began to create new minimalist works. As he fused his creative methods with his interests in science, philosophy, and religion, Irwin conceived that art must be conditional to its environment and must enhance viewers’ perceptions. He deserted the idea of the frame to create art in express response to certain settings. An artist at the forefront of the Light and Space movement, he continues to build site-specific works.

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