Robert Irwin
Light and Space

November 2021 — January 2022
Exhibition venue: ​Kraftwerk Berlin

A testament to Robert Irwin’s ability to transform a space, Light and Space (Kraftwerk Berlin) is the artist's largest artwork, to date, to be exhibited in Europe.

An experience that invites viewers to immerse themselves in Irwin's experiments with light and space.

Light and Space (Kraftwerk Berlin) is LAS’ newly commissioned and site-specific exhibition by renowned American artist Robert Irwin presented at Kraftwerk Berlin. For over five decades, Irwin’s oeuvre has been driven by his continuous inquiry into human perception and use of space. A forefather of Light and Space, a loosely affiliated art movement related to Minimalism and geometric abstraction that originated in Southern California in the 1960s, Irwin is one of the most prolific artists to have emerged from that scene. His practice moved from early Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s to observation-based Minimalist painting, sculpture and wall-objects in the 1960s, before finally leaving the studio and object-centric practice altogether in 1970 for a strictly site-specific approach in which he conceived his art as closely shaped by the conditions of the surrounding space. The core tenets of his practice then came to the fore, favouring experiential relationships with built environments including museums and galleries, parks, gardens and other urban settings; Irwin began to work more extensively with fluorescent light.

Irwin’s Light and Space series consists of fluorescent light tubes in abstract, rhythmic yet undecipherable patterns spread on white walls with a high finish. Apart from being the largest work of its kind in Europe, this new iteration Light and Space (Kraftwerk Berlin) for the first time combines white with blue-coloured fluorescent light tubes – these are positioned on either side of a monumental 16x16 metre freestanding wall. With this work, Irwin combines his interest in Abstraction’s potential for a vision devoid of any precise object, alluding to his painterly experiments of the 1960s, with his more recent examinations of the conditions of colour perception.

The exhibition is a testament to Irwin’s ability to transform a space: he intervenes in Kraftwerk’s notable brutalist architecture to create an experience that invites viewers to immerse themselves in his experiments with light and space, challenging our perceptions and how perception can extend beyond a work of art, or, as the artist puts it: ‘How art structures the way we see the world.’

Curators: Amira Gad & Ruth Kißling, Assisted by Dennis Brzek

Robert Irwin (b. 1928, Long Beach, CA) lives and works in San Diego, CA. Since the early 1970s, Irwin has created site-conditioned installations and major architectural and environmental installations at institutions worldwide.

Discover

“My ambition is, in a sense, to make you see a little bit more tomorrow than you saw today.”

Robert Irwin in conversation with Jonathan Griffin, Apollo Magazine, 1 November 2015

Robert Irwin, Light and Space II (1), 2008. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021. Photo: © Stephen White. Courtesy White Cube.

Discover

“The senses are fantastically severe instruments if you really start letting them read.”

A short documentary film on Robert Irwin produced by LACMA, 2016

Robert Irwin, Light and Space III, 2008, Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021.