Robert Irwin, Excursus: Homage to the Square³, Dia Center for the Arts, 548 West 22nd Street, New York City. September 13, 1998-June 13, 1999. © Robert Irwin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Thibault Jeanson
Excursus: Homage to the Square³
June 1, 2015 thru May, 2017
DIA: Beacon, 3 Beekman Street, Beacon, Hudson Valley
The presentation of Robert Irwin’s Excursus: Homage to the Square³ (1998-99) at Dia:Beacon will mark the return of the work to public view, approximately fifteen years after its premiere at Dia Center for the Arts in New York City. Beginning on June 1, 2015, audiences will be able to experience Irwin’s site-specific installation in the museum whose master plan he created. The new installation of Excursus: Homage to the Square³ was developed specifically for Dia:Beacon and will be accompanied by a symposium and a publication.
“Excursus: Homage to the Square³ is one of the most important displays of Irwin’s environmental installations that-through the manipulation of existing architecture-explore physical, sensory, and temporary states,” commented Jessica Morgan, Director, Dia Art Foundation. “It is a great privilege to install this work at Dia:Beacon and return it to public view, highlighting for audiences the unique interconnections between Irwin’s artistic and architectural practices.”
The work began as a site-specific installation titled Prologue: x183 that occupied an entire floor of Dia Center for the Arts, Dia’s former exhibition space in New York City, during the spring of 1998. The piece featured white fluorescent lights that were installed within eighteen cubic chambers and defined by floor-to-ceiling scrims; the windows were covered with custom-fabricated blue-and-gray theatrical gels, providing visitors with a maze-like environment of subtly changing shadows to explore. Months into the installation, Irwin took the opportunity to further incorporate color into the piece by wrapping each set of fluorescent lights in complex combinations of vividly colored gels. This new work was retitled Excursus: Homage to the Square³ in reference to Josef Albers’s celebrated series. Irwin’s layered use of colored gels was directly informed by Albers’s method of creating idiosyncratic hues through overlaid layers of translucent paint treatments. Excursus: Homage to the Square³ was acquired by Dia in 2000.
The new installation of Excursus: Homage to the Square³ at Dia:Beacon will represent a singular manifestation of Irwin as an artist. Moving from his interior gallery layouts and flow patterns to the architectural interventions evident throughout the building to the landscaped gardens and forecourt that he designed, audiences will have the opportunity to experience an environment in which Irwin has touched virtually every facet.
“Excursus: Homage to the Square³ invites audiences to explore the work of art. What is so unique is that there is no beginning, middle, or end. Audiences can enter the work from a variety of entry points,” said Yasmil Raymond, Curator, Dia Art Foundation. “It has been such an honor to work closely with Irwin, a pioneer of the L.A.-based Light and Space movement of the 1960s, to reconceive this project for Dia:Beacon and create a long-term plan that will allow Dia to share this work with future generations.”
Maintaining Dia’s philosophy of displaying single-artist presentations for extended periods of time, Excursus: Homage to the Square³ be on view at Dia:Beacon for two years.
A symposium on Excursus: Homage to the Square³ is scheduled for fall 2015.
The installation of Robert Irwin’s Excursus: Homage to the Square³ is made possible by lead support from the National Endowment for the Arts and Cindy and Howard Rachofsky. Major support is provided by The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston and Dia’s Commissioning Committee: Marguerite S. Hoffman, Jill and Peter Kraus, and Leslie and Mac McQuown. Additional support is provided by the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency, and Pace Gallery.
Dia Art Foundation
Dia Art Foundation was founded in New York City in 1974 to help artists achieve visionary projects that might not otherwise be realized due to scale or scope. Situated on the banks of the Hudson River, Dia:Beacon opened in May 2003 as the museum for the foundation’s distinguished collection of art from the 1960s to the present as well as for special exhibitions, new commissions, and public programs. In addition to the museum space in Beacon, New York, Dia maintains several long-term sites, including Walter De Maria’s The New York Earth Room (1977) and The Broken Kilometer (1979), Max Neuhaus’s Times Square (1977), Joseph Beuys’s 7000 Eichen (7000 Oaks, inaugurated at Documenta 7 in 1982), and Dan Flavin’s untitled (1996), all of which are located in Manhattan; the Dan Flavin Art Institute (established in 1983) in Bridgehampton, New York; De Maria’s The Lightning Field (1977) in western New Mexico; Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (1970) in Great Salt Lake, Utah; De Maria’s The Vertical Earth Kilometer (1977) in Kassel, Germany; and Flavin’s untitled (to you, Heiner, with admiration and affection) (1973) in Munich, Germany. Dia also commissions original Artist Web Projects and produces scholarly publications.
Additionally, Dia presents temporary installations, lectures, performances, and readings on West 22nd Street in New York City.