$1 Million Gift Will Mount Robert Irwin Installation in Marfa

Robert Irwin, 1988.
Photo: Allen Weiss/Flikr.

Robert Irwin is coming back to Texas.

The 86-year-old artist is partnering with the Chinati Foundation in Marfa to design the first freestanding installation dedicated to his own work.

The work is made possible by a $1 million gift to the museum from patrons Vernon and Amy Faulconer of Dallas. They are giving the Chinati $1 million, half of which will be applied to the Irwin project and half of which will support Chinati’s operations.

The large-scale installation piece, which the artist said has been in the works for 13 years, is planned to be around 10,000 square feet. Construction is expected to begin early next year with completion anticipated for the year 2016. “I’ll believe it when I see it,” Irwin told the Los Angeles Times.

The Chinati Foundation sits on 340 acres that used to be Army barracks, and Irwin’s interior installation will be housed on the site of the former hospital, which must be rebuilt from near-ruin. 

Irwin said he’ll only need a few weeks to install his piece, and then visitors to the Chinati can enjoy the six-hour drive from San Antonio to Marfa to see Irwin’s first major solo exhibition since 2013.

Marfa resonates with Irwin. It’s where he met and befriended its founder, minimalist artist Donald Judd, in the 1950s.

Irwin said the U-shaped structure will not prohibit the natural light that drew Judd to Marfa so many years ago. “The windows will gradate, one side will start all white and become gray,” Irwin told the Los Angeles Times. “The other side will do the opposite. The lights are the show.”

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