Explore the Era

Delve into the postwar Los Angeles art world in this online archive, which provides additional material related to the exhibitions on view at the Getty Center. Learn about hipsters and happenings, and the venues across the city where all the action took place through images from the archives and first-hand accounts with the artists.

Robert Irwin

Robert Irwin and James Turrell

Robert Irwin and James Turrell inside the anechoic chamber at UCLA, 1969. Image courtesy of Malcolm Lubliner and Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica. © Malcolm Lubliner

A native of Southern California, Robert Irwin (born 1928) began his career as a painter, associating with the vibrant Ferus Gallery scene of the late 1950s and 1960s. Irwin’s ongoing considerations of the nature of light and space led him to produce complex environmental paintings and, in turn, non-object based environments and installations. By the early 1970s he was a leader among the generation of artists to define the Light and Space movement, which continues to inform the complex works he produces today. Irwin’s artwork is characterized by unique perceptual qualities that are produced by a moving viewer and respond to the specific conditions that surround each work. In addition to site-specific installations, Irwin’s practice has also included extensive theoretical writing and landscape design.

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Works of Art

  • Black on White

    Black on White, 2011, Robert Irwin. Granite. 60 x 36 x 392 in. This work was commissioned by the J. Paul Getty Trust in honor of James N. Wood. © Robert Irwin
    These images show a model of the installation, the quarry in India where the granite was sourced, and the piece after delivery to the fabricator.

Explore the Archive

  • Video: Robert Irwin’s installation Black on White

    Video: Documentation of the artistic process, fabrication, and installation of Robert Irwin’s installation Black on White

  • Larry Bell and Robert Irwin studios

    View of Market Street in Venice, California, in 1970, showing the studio buildings of Larry Bell (right) and Robert Irwin (left). Photo by Larry Bell. Courtesy of and © Larry Bell

  • Poster for The Studs group exhibition

    Poster for The Studs group exhibition at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, 1964. Image courtesy of Hal Glicksman

  • Robert Irwin, ca. 1967

    Robert Irwin, ca. 1967. Photo by Frank J. Thomas. Courtesy of the Frank J. Thomas Archives