MacArthur Fellows Program

Robert W. Irwin

Painter and Installation Artist | Class of March 1984

Painter and Installation Artist
Westwood , California
56 at time of award
Area of Focus
3-D Visual Art
Published March 1, 1984

About Robert's Work

Robert Irwin is a visual artist who creates large-scale works of art in public places.

Irwin’s art has moved from its beginnings in abstract expressionism through successive shifts in style and sensibility, from painting to installation, into a new aesthetic territory where philosophical concepts of human perception and the world interact.  Among his numerous public projects, the most recent is the Getty Central Garden (1997), designed for the Getty Center in Los Angeles.  His proposals for environmental works have been realized in many other American cities, including New York, Washington, D.C., Dallas, Seattle, San Diego, and San Francisco.


Irwin’s work has been widely exhibited in museums in North America and abroad, including the Museum of contemporary Art in Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid.  He is the author of Being and Circumstance: Notes Toward a Conditional Art (1985).

Irwin studied at the Otis Art Institute (1948-50) and the Chouinard Art Institute (1953-54).

Last updated January 1, 2005.

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