Robert Irwin: Site Determined

“The work of art is above all a process of creation” -Paul Klee

Architectural sketches and models take center stage in Robert Irwin: Site Determined exhibition at the University Art Museum at CSULB. This is the first exhibition that explores four decades of the artist’s outdoor projects through drawings and models. Starting with his first out door exploration Window Wall 1975 (which is also located on the CSULB campus), to Irwin’s plans for a project commissioned by the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas.

The Exhibition curated by Matthew Simms demonstrates how he has used the “Landscape as muse and upheld observer as collaborator.”(1) It is clear throughout the exhibition you see Irwin’s play and interest with light and spatial shifts in each of the projects exhibited. You begin to see less an interjection with the spaces he works with, but rather you see what particular light and spatial shifts are available to him, in which he can then manipulate and accentuate. The exhibition allows the viewer to witness Irwin’s thinking and clearly showed how he drew from his surroundings. Creating a new space a “new way of art making”(1)

“A cerebral show” is what Amanda Fruta called it as we did a walk through of the exhibition. I could not agree with her more. It is a treat to be able to see the process of creation. It is also fitting that the exhibition is located on an institution, adding to the cerebral quality of the exhibition.

An exhibition like this is differentiated from most other forms of communication because it is an articulation of ideas in space. Coincidentally creating an atmosphere through the memory (depicted though the drawings and models) and sensation (experienced through the curation of these elements) allowing a viewer to sense the space of the projects in the exhibition. It brings to the fore a physical and psychological experience allowing viewers to ‘feel’ the process rather then experience the object.

There is a lesson to be learned with this exhibition. Listen to the world around you. The subtleties and nuances, and you just might be surprised at what you find and or notice.

Don’t forget to check out Window Wall which is located on the CSULB campus in front of the campus art store. Also there is a concurrent exhibition of Robert Irwin’s work at Spruth Magers LA.


Photo Credit:

Installation image from Robert Irwin: Site Determined, on view at UAM through April 15, 2018

Photo courtesy of the University Art Museum, CSULB

Photographer: Jason Meintjes

Special Thanks:

Amanda Fruta for the informative insight and walkthrough of the exhibition



(1) CSULB, Press Release, “Robert Irwin: Site Determined”