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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Materials
  • Separated Material
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Robert Irwin papers
    Date (inclusive): circa 1940-2011, bulk 1970-2011
    Number: 940081
    Creator/Collector: Irwin, Robert, 1928-
    Physical Description: 346 Linear Feet
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles 90049-1688
    Business Number: (310) 440-7390
    Fax Number: (310) 440-7780
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/askref
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: Robert Irwin is a California artist associated with the Light and Space movement. His papers document many of Irwin's site-specific, primarily public artworks from the 1980s with correspondence, writings, clippings, drawings, photographs, models, and sound and video recordings. Additions (1999-2011) to the archive include papers, photographs, and drawings relating to the Getty central garden and other projects (ca. 1992-2011).
    Request Materials: To access physical materials on site, go to the library catalog record   for this collection and click "Request an Item." Click here for access policy .
    Language: Collection material is in English.

    Biographical/Historical Note

    Robert Irwin is a Southern California artist and a founder of the Light and Space movement.

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers. Boxes 121-124 contain legal documents and are sealed pending review in 2032.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Getty Research Institute. Contact Library Reproductions and Permissions .

    Preferred Citation

    Robert Irwin papers, ca. 1940-2011, bulk 1970-2011, Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Accession no. 940081.

    Acquisition Information

    The papers were acquired in 1994. Additions to the archive were received in 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1997. Subsequent additions were received in 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011.

    Processing History

    Lynda Bunting unpacked and minimally processed the collection in the Fall of 1994. From July 1995 to March 1996, the oversize material was processed. Kelly Nipper helped identify and organize the photographs.
    In July 1997 a supplement consisting of correspondence and project files dating from the 1990s was interfiled.
    In 2012 Teresa Soleau incorporated additions into the finding aid but kept the materials housed separately.
    The 1999 addition includes boxes 76-86, flatfiles 5-7 and 23, boxed rolls 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 18, 21-25, video item number V23, audio item number C22, and digital item number D2.
    The 2001 addition includes boxes 87-98, flatfiles 24-26, boxed rolls 5, 8, 10-12, 16, 19, video item numbers V24 and V25, and audio item number C23.
    The 2003 addition includes boxes 99-101, flatfile 28, model 133, and video item number V26.
    The 2004 addition includes boxes 102-106, flatfiles 8-22 and 29, boxed rolls 3, 9, 13-15, 17, 20, 26, 29, and digital item number D3.
    The first addition from 2005 includes boxes 107-110, flatfile 30, and digital item number D4.
    The second addition from 2005 includes boxes 111-112, and flatfiles 31-38.
    The 2007 addition includes boxes 113-118, flatfiles 39-44, rolls 45-46, and digital item numbers D5-D6.
    The 2008 addition includes boxes 119-126, flatfiles 45 and 53-56, and digital item numbers D1 and D7.
    The 2010 addition includes boxes 127-130, flatfiles 46 and 48, and digital item number D8.
    The 2011 addition includes box 131-132, flatfile 47, and digital item number D9.

    Digitized Material

    Selected audiovisual recordings are available online: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/940081s6 

    Related Materials

    For additional material related to Robert Irwin's design for the Central Garden at the Getty Center, see the related collection in the Institutional Archives of the J. Paul Getty Trust: Getty Center Central Garden design plans  , Robert Irwin. The Getty Research Institute (IA40020).

    Separated Material

    75 titles were separated to the library 1995 June 27. Some were duplicates.
    Five titles were separated July 1997 from the supplement.
    85 titles were separated February 2012 from additions 1999-2011.
    Materials can be found by searching the library catalog for "Robert Irwin Papers" as the source collection.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Robert Irwin papers are comprised of correspondence, personal writings, clippings, and audiovisual and digital materials, as well as project files, photographs, drawings, and models pertaining to his environmental works. The material dates from 1970, the year he sold the contents of his Venice, California studio, to 2011. The project files, photographs, and drawings present a comprehensive view of his site-specific, primarily public, artworks, both executed and unrealized, from the 1980s. Particularly well documented are 48 Shadow Planes, 1983, Old Post Office, Washington, D.C.; Arts Enrichment Master Plan, proposed 1986, Miami International Airport; Two Architectural Towers, proposed 1989, City Front Plaza, Chicago; Dia:Beacon, 1996-2003, New York; and the Getty central garden, 1992-ca. 2008, Los Angeles.

    Arrangement note

    The papers are organized in nine series: Series I. Correspondence, 1975-2010; Series II. Personal writings, ca. 1940-1999, undated; Series III. Project files, 1970-2009, undated; Series IV. Clippings and ephemera, ca. 1960-2011, undated; Series V. Photographs, ca. 1969-2003, undated; Series VI. Audiovisual and digital material, 1971-2010, undated; Series VII. Project drawings, ca. 1970-2007, undated; Series VIII. Project models, ca. 1979-ca. 1993; Series IX. Miscellaneous, undated

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Corporate Bodies

    City Front Plaza (Chicago, Ill.)
    Dia:Beacon (Art museum)
    Getty Center (Los Angeles, Calif.)
    Miami International Airport
    Old Post Office and Clock Tower (Washington, D.C.)

    Subjects - Topics

    Landscape architecture
    Art, Modern -- 20th century
    Sculpture, Modern -- 20th century
    Building sites -- Planning -- United States
    Public sculpture -- United States
    Environment (Art)
    Public art -- United States
    Light in art

    Subjects - Places

    Getty Center Gardens (Los Angeles, Calif.)

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Video recordings
    Printed ephemera
    Safety film
    Clippings (information artifacts)
    Study models
    Photographs, Original
    Photographic prints
    Hard disks
    Color photographs
    Color slides
    Color negatives
    Compact discs
    Architectural drawings (visual works)
    Sound recordings


    Irwin, Robert, 1928-
    City Front Plaza (Chicago, Ill.)
    Dia:Beacon (Art museum)
    J. Paul Getty Trust
    Miami International Airport
    Old Post Office and Clock Tower (Washington, D.C.)