Summer is a wonderful time to visit Dia:Beacon, the acclaimed contemporary art museum housed in a former Nabisco factory on the Hudson River. On a recent visit, we were eager to explore the newest addition to the space: Robert Irwin’s installation, Excursus: Homage to the Square3.
An American artist associated with the California-based Light and Space movement, Irwin has been making sculptural installations since 1968. Excursus is a more recent iteration of a work that was originally installed at Dia in New York City in 1998 and acquired in 2000. Composed of a maze of interconnected rooms made of transparent scrims, the installation is nonhierarchical, prescribing no single route for the viewer to move through it. Punctuated by fluorescent tubes coated with combinations of colorful gels, the light formed within the confines of Excursus appears thick and atmospheric, as if it has been given weight. Passing from chamber to chamber, one cannot help but pause to study the movement of fellow visitors perusing the other rooms, coming in and out of view as if mediated by haze, the furthest reduced to shadow. Like the color studies of Josef Albers – referenced in the work’s title – Excursus prompts perceptual reflection. The experience it brackets is one of feeling oneself make sense of space, visually and physically.
Visitors should not miss the outdoor gardens at Dia:Beacon, which Irwin also designed. Excursus: Homage to the Square3 will be on view through May 2017.