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Art Is Being In The World

Robert Irwin and Pace Gallery

What is art? Where do you make it? Where do you show it?

How you think about those questions can impact how you see yourself as a creator, and what you do about being one.

Artist Robert Irwin, a pioneer of the Light and Space movement, in 1970 abandoned his studio practice.

In a recent interview, he comments:

“Philosophically, I had taken the whole thing apart and realized one day that I was doing certain things that were very simple — and I realized that’s not how we see the world.

“We don’t see the world in a frame. And pretty much my understanding of the history of modern art is that it took itself apart, dismantled the whole idea of a pictorial reality. I realized that if I stayed in the studio I would do something like studio work…

“A studio is not an accident. It has a long, hard tradition. I thought, ‘If I stay in studio, I’m not going to be able to pursue this.’ So I got rid of everything, sold everything, sold the studio, and kind of went out into the desert for a while, because the desert is not made of objects; it’s more expansive.”

From Interview with Robert Irwin by Aileen Kwun, Surface Mag., June/July 2015.

[Photo: recent Pace Gallery installation, plus portrait by Keirnan Monaghan for Surface.]

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Art “isn’t about being in the studio, it’s about being in the world.” – Robert Irwin

That quote is from a post by Alyson Stanfield, who notes Irwin was the first artist to receive the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship Award in 1984.

She asks, “’Being in the world.’ What does it mean? As a student of art history, I think it means that art is (or should be) informed by life experiences.

“Since 2002, I have simultaneously encouraged you to get out of the studio and stay in. Confusing, I know.

“You have to have a studio practice in order to make the art that you want to share with the world. You have to get back out of the studio and your comfort zone to put the work in front of more eyeballs.”

Visit her site Art Biz Coach to read more of her post “Art Is About Being In The World” (on 07.23.15) and learn about her programs and resources to help “artists, galleries, and organizations gain more recognition, organize their businesses, and sell more art.”

Where do you create?


Art Is Being In The World

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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Some excerpts from The Creative Mind are included in his newsletter .
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2019). Art Is Being In The World. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 8, 2020, from


Last updated: 27 Mar 2019
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