Friday, February 12, 2010

Robert Irwin's World of Inquiry

After a full day at Macworld I broke with conference convention and rather than attend a party, I took my visual artist friend Gail Gove up on an invitation to attend a lecture Robert Irwin was giving at Mills College. In true slide and glide fashion, we got to the hall with a bout a minute to find a perch amid the crowd and settle in before the 81-year-old artist known for his involvement in the Light and Space Movement took the stage. Unprepossessing dressed and wearing dark glasses due to a health condition, he expounded on his path of artmaking and deep questioning: objects, space, edges, meaning. I soon felt like the proverbial frog who sees the ocean for the first time after a life living in a well. It wasn't so much that it was totally new terrain, but how elegantly he detailed his path, of leaving the studio, of turning the traditional hierarchy of artmaking on its side, and his view of 'pure potentiality' and how universal his themes—bridgebuilding, being— were. It's noteworthy that the man does not have a computer. More concerned with the tactile, he's left Facebook to his 16-year-old daughter.

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