Art Quiz: The Answer is Robert Irwin

First, here’s a bit of information about the “MacArthur Foundation” and its annual awards:

The MacArthur Fellows Program, also known as the MacArthur Fellowship and commonly but unofficially known as the “Genius Grant“, is a prize awarded annually by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation typically to between 20 and 30 individuals, working in any field, who have shown “extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction” and are citizens or residents of the United States.

According to the foundation’s website, “the fellowship is not a reward for past accomplishment, but rather an investment in a person’s originality, insight, and potential”. The current prize is $625,000 paid over five years in quarterly installments. This figure was increased from $500,000 in 2013 with the release of a review of the MacArthur Fellows Program. Since 1981, 942 people have been named MacArthur Fellows, ranging in age from 18 to 82. The award has been called “one of the most significant awards that is truly ‘no strings attached'”.

The program does not accept applications. Anonymous and confidential nominations are invited by the foundation and reviewed by an anonymous and confidential selection committee of about a dozen people. The committee reviews all nominees and recommends recipients to the president and board of directors. Most new fellows first learn of their nomination and award upon receiving a congratulatory phone call. 

– From Wikipedia: MacArthur Fellows Program

In 1984, installation artist Robert Irwin was one of the recipients. He was, indeed, the first artist to be so honored. Previously, awards had been given to several individuals with connections to the world of art. These include:

Elma Lewis, Arts Educator

Charles A. Bigelow, Type Designer

Irene J. Winter, Art Historian

Irwin, however, was the first artist to receive  a fellowship. He is an American installation artist whose work explores the perception of art, often through architectural installations that alter the physical, sensory, and temporal experience of space. He is best known for his work in the “Light and Space” movement.

Shown here is “Two Running Violet V Forms”, located in a eucalyptus grove behind the Faculty Club at the University of California in San Diego.


And the others mentioned in the question? Who are they?

Larry BellAmerican contemporary artist and sculptor, best known for his glass boxes and large-scaled illusionistic sculptures.

Barnett NewmanThis American artist died in 1970, many years before the first MacArthur Fellowships were awarded. He was seen as one of the major figures in abstract expressionism and color field painting.

Mary Corse: American artist whose works are seen as “existing at a crossroad between Abstract Expressionism and American Minimalism.

This art quiz question gave me the opportunity to learn about several artists I wasn’t familiar with. How about you? Did you know the answer? Have you seen works by the different artists mentioned here? I certainly enjoyed this question, and I hope you did, too.

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