|RED, WHITE, AND BLUE II (2000), BY ROBERT IRWIN|
ACQUIRED FROM THE ARTIST, RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA, MARCH 2002
OIL ON CANVAS, 61" BY 61"
Robert Irwin's wife Melissa Peden and my mother have been good friends ever since they were both children growing up in Raleigh. So, when my sister Lee got married to Don Kennedy back in 1998, Robert and Melissa gave one of Robert's paintings to Lee and Don as a wedding present... that was my first exposure to Robert's work.
When I ran into Robert at a Christmas party in Raleigh in December 2001, I told him that I was interested in possibly acquiring one of his works, but that I wanted to see a good selection of them before making up my mind. He brought me a copy of his portfolio the next day, and when I browsed through it, one series of works, the Red, White, and Blue series, really caught my eye. After comparing the various works, Robert and I arranged that he would deliver this work, Red, White, and Blue II, to me when he came to Charlotte... at over five feet square, the work required a trailer to transport it, and two people to hang it.
The ship depicted in this work is the United States Coast Guard Cutter Diligence, WMEC 616, which is homeported in Wilmington, North Carolina. (The Diligence has quite a history, which you can read by clicking here.) I'm not sure if this image shows the Diligence berthed in its home port of Wilmington, or if perhaps it was visiting Morehead City (Robert lives in Beaufort, not too far away) when he painted it. Either way, it's still a very dynamic painting.
There are a few things I like about this work, especially the slanted red stripe on the side of the Diligence and the careful way in which the work hovers between being an abstract and being a representational work... you see the boat, the dock, the water, the sky, and a bit of landscape in the background, and that's it. This minimalist depiction really appeals to me. Of course, the very large size of this work guarantees that it makes quite an impression.
September 2004 update: Red, White, and Blue II is now featured on page 157 of Robert's book, Robert F. Irwin 40 Years.
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