Robert Irwin’s Ambient Odyssey

After seven decades of experimentation, the artist produces “Unlights,” a confounding wonder — and possibly “my swan song.”

Comments: 22

  1. Kudos to the Times for this exquisite piece on Irwin, and the content. From the video to the photography to the care taken to convey the gallery's light sources hitting the artworks, it demonstrates what the Gray Lady has been doing so well since the now-legendary "Snow Fall" piece.

  2. I almost regret reading this piece and the explanation of the artist’s process. The works I saw a few weeks ago were so magnetic and compelling that I may prefer not to know how they were created. Nevertheless an excellent description of the show.

  3. Robert Irwin is a superb visionary who has literally expanded how we see the world. He never fails to amaze me!

  4. Reminds me of a star's spectrum without the beauty.

  5. who knew bar codes were works of art? do the paintings illustrated here code for theatrical gels, an art catalog or a threepack of fluorescent light fixtures? is it a bulb, or is it a shadow? wow.

  6. When superior people hear of the Way, they carry it out with diligence. When middling people hear of the Way, it sometimes seems to be there, sometimes not. When lesser people hear of the Way, they ridicule it greatly. If they didn’t laugh at it, it wouldn’t be the Way. – Tao Te Ching 41

  7. @Observer Svaha!

  8. Fascinating - however, I wonder why Divergence of Gaze (done to get the so-called 3D effect) doesen't work with these images.

  9. I don't see how anyone can comment on this show without having seen it. It's a must see.

  10. These are gorgeous. In still photos, and from a distance, they're reminiscent of Gene Davis's color field paintings.

  11. Saw this exhibit and was totally floored. Or maybe I should say, i was totally LIT! Prior to arriving, I thought, I'm going to be disappointed, how could this be at all interesting or match my first and most favorite of his pieces, Homage to a Square. The bulbs are unlit, and I'm figuring they'll be like all dead bulbs--sad-- but with gels on. And at first that's what you get. The room upon entering felt to me too bright to appreciate the pieces. But then! Then you move toward and beside the pieces and inevitably you are also moving your head a little, peering at it from here then there. And then it IS like a song revealing itself in three dimensional form, or rather you get a new "riff" each time you pass by it in a different way. The lines seem to dance around, but in fact, it is you who is actually dancing with it! Hooray for Robert Irwin! You did it again, man! And you're over 90. What an achievement. Excellent piece, Lawrence Weschler. Your biography of Irwin was what started me crushing over Robert Irwin and your writing over ten years ago when I wandered into the DIA and had to read more about Irwin after seeing Homage to a Square.

  12. OMG, another glorified modernist nightmare! These kinds of scams are collectibles for billionaire hedge fund crooks, and the other 0.01% that have commodified this useless drivel. What a waste.

  13. @Robert M. Koretsky Perhaps a book on Minimalist art - or a Xanax?

  14. Like... woah dogg

  15. Am I detecting the return of the older, non-minority, White Male Artist, out of exile from the pages of the NYT and the five boroughs? Two days ago it was Anselm Kiefer with Karl Ove Knausgaard. I am not gloating; just hopeful. Because in my view, good is good, no matter the source. Which is a statement that disqualifies me, "cancels" me... It is almost two-thirty, and there are no comments posted as yet. Want to bet that there will soon be a rush of postings, not to comment on what looks like a unique and wonderful exhibition, but instead to troll me for mine? In any case, I will certainly make the trip to enjoy the Pace show. It looks like a rare opportunity! Thanks to Lawrence Weschler for this article and to the NYT for daring.

  16. With so much really talented artists starving, why does the NYT consistently choose such childish paint-by-the-numbers wall paper-like stuff to present as fine art? Perhaps the staff haven’t been to the Met?

  17. Weschler's book on Irwin is a marvel (as were all his pieces in the New Yorker). But this Times article? "Near-harrowing back pain" ? "introjected those very same shadows" ? "rampantly evident"" ? "continues [instead of continue] to confound" ? And the laziest of all descriptions, "Zenlike" ?

  18. If you can think about how you perceive something then you begin to perceive something about how you think.

  19. Irwin's works are always something to behold in person. It's incredibly difficult to convey their luminescence in photography. That said, the animated gifs accompanying this review were stellar.

  20. This is beauty in the variations of simplicity and format. Complexity flowing from the reiteration of minimalist design in its summation.

  21. The eye of the beholder.

  22. Beautiful effects - and you have to love an artist who'd name a work after Rodgers and Hart's "Thou Swell."