I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Bill Irwin for the first time; both as a man and as an artist. If I were asked to ascribe something to his style as an artist, it'd have to be akin to something like an analogy experiential designer.
What Robert Irwin is insisting upon, these paintings seem irresistibly to declare, is that the medium is not the message. They explore a division, as absolute as can possibly be demonstrated, between the art-object and the art, between painting and the experience of art. What stays in the museum is only the art-object, not valueless, but not the value of the art. The art is what has happened to the viewer.
This quote by Leider in his 1966 catalogue essays is perhaps one of my favorite descriptions of any artist. This sentiment is echoed later in the reading, on page 190, when making reference to Irwin's Black Plane - Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, by saying that:
And that, of course, was just about as far as you could go on a particular line of aesthetic inquiry, for it implied not only the dematerialization of the art object, but the virtual evaporation of the artists role qua artist.
This last part raises some interesting questions, for me at least, that have to do with Elmyr's forgeries. It seemed quite the opposite in fact, with the perceived role of the artist being directly responsible for the materialization of the art object.
The idea of art as an experience resonates a lot more with me than the idea of the creation of an art-object. Added to this is the fact that Irwin painstakingly curates the perception of his work, not simply the work itself. I was also fascinated by his comparisons between artistic practice and scientific method. He alludes to the natures of art and science being both ones of a trial-and-error approach, with the latter placing more importance on the documentation process. Scientific rigor relies on the concept of repeatability, whereas art, in general, differentiates itself by focusing on the experience of the result, rather than the result itself.