Chinati Foundation honors passing of contemporary artist Robert Irwin

Visitors spend time with Robert Irwin’s untitled (dawn to dusk), 2016. Photo by Alex Marks, courtesy of The Chinati Foundation. © 2023 Robert Irwin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

MARFA — Contemporary American artist Robert Irwin, renowned for his site-specific installations that center light and space, and contributor to the Chinati Foundation, passed away on October 25 at age 95.

This past weekend, in his honor, the museum held a free open viewing of untitled (dawn to dusk), a large-scale installation completed by Irwin in 2016 at the site of the abandoned Fort D.A. Russell army hospital.

“All of us at the foundation are deeply saddened by his passing, but we are grateful to spend time with his work often,” said Chinati Director Caitlin Murray. “untitled (dawn to dusk) invites observers to consider their surroundings –– and the light and space in Marfa –– with heightened awareness and appreciation.”

The significant C-shaped building, complete with a courtyard garden displaying basalt columns, remains the only freestanding structure created by Irwin as a singular work of art. The interior of the building is split into two sections: light and dark. Transparent scrims bisect walkways and reflect light, while windows placed above eye level offer carefully-framed West Texas sky views.

Irwin, who was friends with Donald Judd, began planning the project in 1999, and contributed to the museum in many ways throughout the years while working on untitled (dawn to dusk), said Murray.

“Throughout the 17-year period during which this permanent installation was conceived, refined and constructed, Irwin presented a series of his working drawings, a temporary scrim exhibition, and multiple fluorescent light pieces at Chinati,” said Murray.

The artists’ dynamic life and mark on Marfa is the subject of a recently-released documentary, Robert Irwin: A Desert of Pure Feeling. The film includes footage of Irwin on site at Chinati for the installation of untitled (dawn to dusk) and was directed by CineMarfa co-founder Jennifer Lane. Marfa residents Joseph Cashiola and Carolyn Pfeiffer were also involved in the film.

Admission and guided tours of The Chinati Foundation are free for tri-county residents, for more information visit