Robert Irwin’s “Excursus: Homage to the Square3,” on view at Dia:Beacon. Credit Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

A lot of contemporary art is agitating. Gratuitous sexual provocation and moral bullying; sensory irritation and intellectual grandiosity; gaudy spectacle and cults of personality. Roiled by such strident forms of sociopathology, today’s art and its attendant New York society can sometimes seem like a boiling caldron of bile and tears heated by a bonfire of money. In many ways, it’s not so different from the mainstream cultures of music, movies, television and politics, and it’s usually not as entertaining.

Of course, it’s not all that bad. I’m waxing hyperbolic by way of recommending a potentially soul-enhancing journey to Dia:Beacon, the museum in Beacon, N.Y., where a quasi-ecclesiastical, minimalist calm prevails and a reincarnation of a luminous late work by the California Light and Space artist Robert Irwin was recently unveiled.


Ken Johnson
New York Times