I DIDN’T KNOW MUCH about Robert Irwin’s work when I wandered into the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden a few weeks ago. I knew that he was a contemporary of a few other artists I admire, James Turrell among them, and that he was the first artist to win a MacArthur Genius Grant in 1984, but I could not recall seeing his work at the Hirshhorn, the National Gallery of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, or any of the other museums I visit on a frequent basis.

The exhibition is called Robert Irwin: All the Rules Will Change. Step off the escalator, walk a few feet, and before you, floating at about eye level, is a white sphere. It is split in half horizontally; a thin band of black pulses at the center. Instead of appreciation, comprehension, even confusion, your mind generates a series of questions. How can it be that this sphere is floating? And what exactly is in the middle of that … that thing? Is it some kind of light? Can light be black? Can black light pulse? Step closer to the sphere, look behind it. Ah. A clear plastic tube connects the sphere to the wall. Indeed, from this vantage point the sphere no longer resembles a sphere; it is actually a wedge of curved plastic. Or metal. Or something. You still cannot tell what is happening in the middle.

 

Read the rest of the article here: Tope Folarin in the LA Review of Books

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