Robert Irwin in the studio working on an early line painting, 1962
To be an artist is not a matter of making paintings or objects at all. What we are really dealing with is our state of consciousness and the shape of our perceptions. Whenever you look at light, basically it's just air. It has no tactileness to it. It's totally without density. If you wanted to watch me work, it would be totally boring. It would look like a Warhol film where nothing happens. I sit for 24 hours, then I scratch myself. If I hold up a red square for 30 seconds and take it away, you will see a perfect green square. It's how the eye works. So if you want to paint a really good red painting, you have to strategically place in some green, so the eye is brought back. The whole thrust of modern art, as far as I understand it, is expanding the role of the artist as a kind of esthetician, someone who actually spends his time, is trained in a way to deal with qualities.
Robert Irwin, Tergal voile, fluorescent bulbs, and framing materials (2015)
Installation view of Robert Irwin:
Scrim Veil-Black Rectangle-Natural Light, Whitney
Robert Irwin (b. 1928), 115 fluorescent lights (2007)