Robert Irwin (American, b.1928) is an Installation artist who was born in Long Beach, CA. After serving in the US Army for a year, he began to take art classes at several art schools. From 1948 to 1954, he spent time taking classes at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, the Jepson Art Institute, and the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. The artist also taught art classes for a year at the Chouinard Art Institute from 1957 to 1958.
Irwin began his art career as a painter. A series of paintings of hand-held objects was among some of his first works. He exhibited this series at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles in 1959. In 1960, he again exhibited his work at the Ferus Gallery as well as at the Pasadena Art Museum. Irwin started to teach at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1962. It was during this year that he began to create line paintings; he then expanded to dot paintings in 1964. Irwin began to teach classes at the University of California, Irvine in 1968. In the following two years, he started to create artwork that included clear acrylic discs, white convex structures attached to walls, and lamp illuminations. In 1970, he went on to create work that included clear acrylic columns. This spawned the creation of his Columns piece. Irwin has also done some landscape art that includes Filigreed Lines and Two Running Violet V Forms.
The artist has won numerous awards for the work that he has created. He was the first artist to be awarded a five-year fellowship when he received the Macarthur Fellowship in 1984. In 1976, he was also awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. Irwin's other awards include the Chaloner award, The Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal, and the James D. Phelan Award. He has also received Honorary Doctorates from the Otis College of Art and Design and the San Francisco Art Institute. Irwin currently lives and works in San Diego, CA.