Robert Irwin


Robert Walter Irwin (September 12, 1928 – October 25, 2023) was an American installation artist who explored perception and the conditional in art, often through site-specific, architectural interventions that alter the physical, sensory and temporal experience of space.

Irwin began his career as a painter in the 1950s, but in the 1960s shifted to installation work, becoming a pioneer whose work helped to define the aesthetics and conceptual issues of the West Coast Light and Space movement. His early works often employed light and veils of scrim to transform gallery and museum spaces, but from 1975 until his death, he also incorporated landscape projects into his practice. Irwin conceived over fifty-five site-specific projects, at institutions including the Getty Center (1992–98), Dia:Beacon (1999–2003), and the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas (2001–16). The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles mounted the first retrospective of his work in 1993; in 2008, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego presented another, spanning fifty years of his career. Irwin received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1976, a MacArthur Fellowship in March 1984, and was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2007. He lived and worked in San Diego, California.

Wikidata identifier


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Southern California artist associated with the Light and Space movement of the 1960s, who early in his career ceased making paintings in favor of ephemeral and sometimes intangible art environments, acting as master planner for the Dia Foundation's building in the Hudson River city of Beacon, and the central garden of the Getty Center, Los Angeles.

Country of birth

United States


Artist, environmental artist, installation artist, painter, sculptor

ULAN identifier



Robert Irwin, Bob Irwin

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Information from the Getty Research Institute's Union List of Artist Names ® (ULAN), made available under the ODC Attribution License. Accessed July 8, 2024.