Artist, Robert Irwin, when invited to create an installation at Judd’s Chinati Foundation, focused on the ruins of a former army hospital as the site for his highly conceptual work. Over a 15 year period of collaboration, artist and architects created a Cartesian version of the original building, precisely and obsessively symmetrical and perfected as a kind of observatory for the phenomenon of Marfa’s protean daylight. The goal was to purge the building and site of anything inessential.
The installation contains a series of scrims and window films that act as light catchers, partially in dark pigments and partially in light shades, a subtlety bordering on the sublime. There is no artificial lighting, no mechanical systems, only the building and the light. Even the glazing, Starfire glass, was chosen for its extreme purity. The detailing of the building clearly shows the result of 15 years of refinement and reduction.
“Hey! I’m at the top of my game here”. - Robert Irwin
While the illumination within is ethereal, the building is massive and literally rooted in its place by slicing into the site, creating a datum plane on the horizon and serving to both expand the project out into the adjacent fields and to establish a level grade for accessibility. The strong but quiet detailing of every inch of the building and its environment shape the experience of an encounter with the profundity of the artist’s thoughts. As a work of Architecture, the Robert Irwin Project is about the architect’s contribution in bringing the artist’s lifetime of work to final fruition. There is no place but here to see the quintessential work of Irwin. As Irwin was heard to say, “Hey! I’m at the top of my game here”.