Robert Irwin: The Beauty of Questions

Produced, directed and edited by Leonard Feinstein

Xippas gallery is very pleased to announce an exclusive online screening of a documentary film on Robert Irwin’s work and life, Robert Irwin: The Beauty of Questions (1997) by Leonard Feinstein.

Filmed over a five year period, from Paris to New York to LA, and from the desert to the thoroughbred racetrack, Robert Irwin: The Beauty of Questions is a one hour documentary that spans the artists’ journey, from his beginnings in the forties, through his years as a painter, and then out of traditional art-spaces into the world at large where he stakes his ambitious projects in the most public of settings.The story is told entirely in Irwin’s own articulate, humorous, and fascinating words, and consists primarily of three intertwined elements:

1/ A comprehensive interview with Irwin that explores his 40-year endeavor, illustrated by archival photos and numerous images of his work, from early paintings, to large-scale installations.  Irwin’s career has been a discipline requiring constant questioning about the process of making art.   Following this thread of inquiry, his work has changed drastically – to a point where some say he is not even an artist anymore.

2/ Journeys with Irwin to places of significance in his life:

– Driving through his old neighborhood in LA, where as a teenager he fixed up hot rods, chased girls, and danced to swing music.

– A day at the racetrack, where playing the horses was his first philosophic lesson.

– In the vast spaces and changing light of the Southwest desert, where he gained inspiration for the “phenomenal” work of the 1970s.

3/ A view of Irwin’s creative process at several venues:

– Building a mock-up of a “light-and-space” installation in a San Diego garage.  Later, in New York, we see the astonishing finished piece…and a time-lapse of its destruction.

– Creating “site-generated” public art works for his 1993 retrospective, at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and at the Museé d’Art Moderne in Paris.

Robert Irwin creates an art that is highly ephemeral.  All of his “light-and-space” installations are gone, and many of his works for public places have been lost to the whims of man and nature.  Yet, what Irwin hopes to create is an art that only fully exists in the perceptual experience of the viewer.  Robert Irwin: The Beauty of Questions preserves a sense of that experience for the historical record, and explores the life of a fascinating artist whose story can affect the very way we perceive the world.