Robert Irwin | Double Blind

Photo courtesy of Philipp Scholz Rittermann

Robert Irwin | Double Blind

The US artist Robert Irwin will present his new installation Double Blind in the Secession’s main gallery. The work is a response to the properties of the space, a way of working for which the artist has coined the term “site-conditioned.” Double Blind is one of only a few site-conditioned installations that Irwin has realized in Europe and the most recent opus in the artist’s long-term engagement with the themes of perception and experience, with light, aesthetics, and questions of reality and illusion.

Photo courtesy of Philipp Scholz Rittermann

Irwin’s exploration of perception and experience dates back to the beginning of his career as an Abstract-Expressionist painter in Los Angeles in the 1950s. Soon plagued with doubts about the adequacy of the panel painting as a depiction of reality, in the 1960s he pioneered the Californian Light and Space movement. A central question that ushered in a change of paradigm in his work was: “What kind of a ‘reality’ was this that allowed itself such abstraction as to demand that the world end at the edge of my canvas? Yet what kind of a world would it be if there were no such limits?”

Photo courtesy of Philipp Scholz Rittermann

In his efforts to find an art form not limited by the size of the canvas, Irwin in 1970 gave up his studio and with it the idea of art defined by its status as an object in favor of art as a phenomenon. Since then he has been realizing works that he calls “site-conditioned”. His installations only become phenomena in response to the space surrounding them and the conditions prevailing there. This makes it impossible to transfer them to some other location. An inherent quality of these works is their ability to transcend the boundaries between art and architecture, art and landscape, art and urban planning, and art and utility.

Photo courtesy of Philipp Scholz Rittermann

Double Blind is Irwin’s response to the characteristic features of the main gallery at the Secession. The room’s absence of windows makes it a neutral container for art, its hermetically sealed quality enhancing the impression of a massive, isolated volume. The grid structure of the ceiling and floor underscore the room’s austere appearance and lend it rhythm. The world outside nonetheless becomes tangible through the daylight streaming in from above. The changing intensity of light in the room allows visitors to sense different times of day and what are frequently rapid changes in the weather.

Photo courtesy of Philipp Scholz Rittermann

The installation Double Blind consists of thirty room-high frames with translucent fabric stretched over them following exactly the lines of the grids that define the room and thus forming three volumes. Depending on where the viewer is standing and on the direction and intensity of the light, the appearance of the installation changes, as does that of the room itself. The door to the garden behind the Secession building stands open, allowing the viewer to see and sense the world outside.

Robert Irwin | Double Mind
Wiener Secession, Association of Visual Artists, Vienna
July 5 – September 1, 2013

more. www.secession.at

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