“The combined effect of the elements was not only gorgeous, but astonishing.”
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Scrim veil—Black rectangle—Natural light, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1977), by California Light and Space artist Robert Irwin, is a large-scale installation that uniquely engages the Whitney’s iconic Breuer building and the natural light that emanates from the large window in the fourth floor gallery space. Part of the Whitney’s collection, the work was made specifically for the Museum’s fourth floor. It has not been exhibited since its 1977 debut, a pivotal moment that would set the course for Irwin’s subsequent artistic practice.
The presentation will be accompanied by a digitized version of the original Robert Irwin catalogue, published by the Whitney at the time of his 1977 exhibition, which includes an ambitious combination of images, project plans, and theoretical texts written by Irwin himself as well as biographical and exhibition information compiled by the exhibition’s curator, Richard Marshall. The catalogue will be updated with a new introduction by Whitney Chief Curator Donna De Salvo and will be available for viewing exclusively at whitney.org.
Robert Irwin: Scrim veil—Black rectangle—Natural light, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1977) is organized by Donna De Salvo, Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Programs.
Originally published in conjunction with Robert Irwin’s 1977 retrospective at the Whitney, this exhibition catalogue has been digitized to coincide with the reinstallation of Scrim veil—Black rectangle—Natural light, Whitney Museum of American Art (1977) on the fourth floor of the Museum. Created in close collaboration with the artist at the time of the original exhibition, this book contains Irwin’s seminal essay “Notes Toward a Model” in which he puts forth his thinking about aesthetics, perception, conception, experience, and the idea of compounded abstraction. It also includes documentation of and plans for some of the artist’s other projects as well as a short chronology and selected exhibition history and bibliography. A new introduction by Donna De Salvo, Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Programs, offers insight into how and why Irwin’s work continues to resonate today.
"The combined effect of the elements was not only gorgeous, but astonishing."
"Its absolute spareness, its matter-of-factness, shocks."
"Though pitched at epic scale, Irwin’s intervention achieves an exquisite sort of understatement, its existence a plea for us to pause, linger, and actively look."
—Artforum (subscription required)
"Scrim veil is a perceptual and conceptual work of art that is infinitely greater than the sum of its parts."
"The work is transcendental."
"Ineffable Emptiness, From Dawn to Dusk: Robert Irwin’s Light-and-Space Work Returns to the Whitney"
—The New York Times
"Back at the Whitney, Tinkering With Perception"
—The New York Times
"Visitors seemed compelled to stay hushed in the room, even though there was no special reason for silence."
—The Daily Beast