Robert Barry provides an inviting space for thought, triggered by minimal cues both visual and verbal, with the implications that the freer the thinking, the more it will reveal. These artistic spaces — whether as large as a room or as modest as a sheet of paper — can be perceived as metaphors extending beyond any limiting frames that traditional notions of art imply, so that we might ‘think about what we are going to do.’ —John Paoletti
Krakow Witkin Gallery announces Robert Barry’s new exhibition, consisting of drawings, paintings, mirror pieces and panel works made over the past three years along with a previously unrealized wall work from 1984. Known as one of the founders of “Conceptual Art,” Barry, in the 1960s and 1970s, explored sound waves, barely visible string, releasing inert gas into the atmosphere and announcing that exhibitions would be closed. These early projects engaged issues of viewer involvement, perception, spatial relationships and art world structures. The recent works continue to be, in one sense, austere. Clean words and surfaces provide visual allure. Reading the chosen words provides an opportunity to get into the works and to better “read” the art. However, no defined references exist in the works. One must be willing to question and explore the potential connections, both for the artist, but more so for the viewer. Each of the formal decisions Barry makes provides opportunities for more specific readings of the work, yet there is no one narrative or reference to be made. The work that is powerful to look at, captivating to read, introspective to explore and yet open-ended in personal experience.
Robert Barry creates a carefully structured visual field where vision is reduced to basics of form and color and space so that thought can be its equal partner in the process of perception, here understood as both visual and mental. This balancing of vision and thought, sense and intellect, is critical … This extraordinary equilibrium between sensory pleasure and rigorous though in the form of carefully structured, yet poetically evocative arrangements of compositional elements — most often in the form of words — is evident as early as his first monochromatic paintings of 1963 and continues unabated through his most recent [works]. Often simplistically read as polar opposites of artistic practice, the perceptual and the conceptual read in Barry’s works as an indissoluble marriage of complimentary components of artmaking, leading to a lyrical poetics of informed and through-provoking vision. —John T. Paoletti
Barry’s first solo museum exhibition was in 1971 at The Tate in London and over the years he has proceeded to have solo exhibitions at the Stedelijk in Amsterdam, the Folkwangmuseum Essen in Germany, the former Museum of Conceptual Art in San Francisco, the Musée St. Pierre, Art Contemporain in Lyon, France, the Haags Gemeentemuseum in Den Haag, Netherlands, the Dum Umeni Brno in the Czech Republic, and the Kunsthalle Nurnberg among others. Group exhibitions with Barry’s work have taken place at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Seattle Art Museum, Jewish Museum, Kyoto Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Modern Art in New York, among hundreds of others. His works are in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Panza Collection, Varese, Ludwig Collection, Cologne, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., Musee National d’Art Moderne, Centre George Pompidou, Paris, Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Museum für Monderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main, Frankfurt, Germany, Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, Los Angeles, and the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, among many others.