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Robert Irwin says it all starts with feeling.This exhibition, at Washington's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, includes 29 works created from 1958 to 1971, a period during which Irwin progressively stripped his works of references to the natural world to focus instead on creating experiences for the public.Series of increasingly large abstract oil paintings demonstrate Irwin's step-by-step evolution from textured, expressionist strokes to straight, spaced out lines, and ultimately to fields of dots with color variations that cancel each other out and seem to disappear into the canvas.Before long, Irwin was focused on extending the edge of the frame, eventually taking it apart and discarding it altogether.Since abandoning the studio in the early 1970s in favor of large-scale installations, Irwin has insisted his work respond entirely to its physical surroundings. Like much of Irwin's work, it's barely there yet succeeds in challenging the viewer's perception of light and space.Before launching into his full-blown installations, Irwin had played with light using discs and columns. Irwin is adamant that art should have nothing to do with politics, a utopian vision shared with many of his contemporaries.
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