Robert Irwin at Chinati
At the site of the former hospital of Fort D.A. Russell, Robert Irwin is creating an ambitious new artwork for the Chinati Foundation's permanent collection. Recognized as one of the greatest and most influential living American artists, Irwin engages the act of perception, shaping light, shadow, and space into powerful works of art. Upon completion in summer 2016, the Robert Irwin building at Chinati will be the first and only permanent installation of its kind designed by Irwin and exclusively devoted to his art.
Construction of Robert Irwin's building in Marfa began in June, 2015. The museum plans to inaugurate the installation in July, 2016.
"The minute you turn off I-10 and start driving this way: The sky changes. It’s amazing. Every day is like a new event. The sky is everything.”-Robert Irwin, quoted in the January 1, 2016 New York Times feature on this project
Irwin's design features his expressive shaping of natural light, shadow, materials, and space. The building will feature a sequence of windows with a view of the surrounding West Texas fields and sky, treated with a grey tinting material to allow more or less light into the space. Transparent scrim walls will further capture the incoming and always changing natural light.
Outside, in the central courtyard, the artist has designed a beautiful garden which will further integrate the indoors with the outdoors. It will be a space of contemplation for the public to enjoy under the wide-open, always-changing far West Texas sky.
Robert Irwin has created gardens and outdoor spaces, working with plants and the landscape for over thirty years, at sites including The Getty Center and Dia: Beacon. At Chinati, the artist has designed an outdoor space for public enjoyment, with native desert grasses, gravel pathways, and a canopy of palo verde trees that will provide shade and bloom with bright yellow flowers in the summer. It will be a place where visitors can further experience Irwin's intention "to make you a little more aware than you were the day before of how beautiful the world is."
The project's architectural plan, below, illustrates the building's c-shaped footprint, forming the space for a central courtyard. Walkways circulate both around and through Corten steel planters containing the trees, with a formation of basalt rocks selected and placed by Irwin at the center.
Robert Irwin designed the outdoor courtyard at the center of his artwork for the public to share and enjoy. Once completed, it will exist as a place of beauty and contemplation. As the courtyard will be an open space for all, we're giving everyone the opportunity to be a part of realizing it for future generations.
Chinati needs $100,000 to complete the courtyard. Our Kickstarter goal is to raise $75,000 or more. You can join our effort to build a unique and extraordinary space at the center of Irwin's new artwork for Marfa by contributing in any amount.
Video by David Fenster. Music: "The Wind in High Places: Maclaren Summit" by John Luther Adams, all rights reserved; used by permission. Recording available from Cold Blue Music. Images copyright Robert Irwin 2016/Artist Rights Society and Judd Foundation/VAGA. Photos by Florian Holzherr, Alex Marks, Aurora Tang, and Douglas Tuck. Time-lapse footage and footage of Robert Irwin by Triptych Films.
Risks and challenges
Chinati is committed to sharing its entire collection, including the forthcoming Robert Irwin building and courtyard, with the public. Museum attendance has grown rapidly over the past five years, and is expected to increase further with this new addition to the permanent collection. Chinati will continue to explore ways to best serve the public and meet the challenges of operating in the small, remote town of Marfa, Texas.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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