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Robert Irwin Displays his Site Determined Exhibit at CSULB

Artist and Long Beach native Robert Irwin shares his installation art over the years at the University Art Museum on campus.

On Jan. 29, Long Beach artist Robert Irwin debuted his art gala “Site Determined” at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB,) which takes visitors chronologically through the past four decades of his work as an abstract artist.

Since the beginning of his career as an artist in the ‘50s from Los Angeles, Robert Irwin has made his mark on the art world through diverse, yet detailed, works around the United States, which are featured in “Site Determined.” Visitors will see everything from his drawings of the Miami International Airport, to his most important light installment in Marfa, Texas that is dedicated to his friend and artist, Donald Judd. Visitors will also see Irwin’s attention to detail, such as the arrangement of local plant life and rock formations that create music as water passes through.

Visitors will also learn more about one of his first well-known installments, “Window Wall.” In 1975, the Long Beach native constructed this piece at CSULB near the School of Art building.

This installation by Irwin is subtle; however, if a student took the time to stop and look through it, they might perceive things around campus a little differently. What is seemingly a rectangular cutout in a random wall, “Window Wall” can also be a way for someone to see a panoramic view of life on campus.

“Perceive yourself perceiving,” Irwin explained in an interview. “If you take that with you, you will begin to see things everywhere around you.”

“Window Wall” was originally built as a temporary installation by Irwin, but after positive responses from those around campus in the 1970s, Irwin gave CSULB permission to rebuild the statue in permanent materials, so students can get a different view of campus life for many years to come. This piece is not only his first outdoor sculpture, but it transcended his work into the “light and space movement.”

Despite Irwin’s legacy at CSULB, he might be best known for his design of the Central Garden at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Irwin began planning the Central Garden in 1992 and was completed in 1997.

The Central Garden is at the heart of the Getty Center and is 134,000 square feet. It features a natural ravine and a tree-lined walkway that, according to Irwin, is “always changing, never twice the same.” The detail, from the specific plants and trees placed in the gardens, to how the rocks were formed in the pond, is all intentional with a goal to make it seem like the garden is playing music as visitors walk through.

Irwin’s work has come full circle as he returns to CSULB to showcase “Site Determined” which is open to the public at the University Art Museum until Apr. 15.

To learn more about the exhibit and to find out times click HERE.


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