Page path:

Robert Barry

The North American artist Robert Barry (*1936) is one of the most prominent representatives of American conceptual art. He studied at Hunter College of the City University of New York from 1957 under the artists William Baziotes and Robert Motherwell. After completing his studies, he also began teaching there himself in 1964.

In his early work until 1967, Robert Barry primarily created paintings, whereby his works were mostly based on elementary forms and colors and had a serial character. From strict linear grids on canvas, he moved on to installations with wires and transparent nylon threads that traced a firmly outlined exterior or interior. The aspect of the invisible became part of his work. Robert Barry's goal was to address immaterial reality. He created 'invisible' works of pure thought art or concept art. He worked with acoustics, radio waves and radioactive materials. In the 1970s he began to work with the medium of language. However, language does not appear as a selfsufficient subject matter, but as a mediator to the idea, the concept. He published several artists' books and worked with slide installations in which he displayed fragments of language on the wall, their sequences got interrupted by the use of blank slides. For his word installations, Barry molded capitalized words directly onto walls or surfaces to evoke narratives and inspire contemplation. Beginning in the 1980s, color and geometric signs, often combined with text fragments, increasingly complemented his art.

By defining space through written and acoustic words, Robert Barry has transcended the physical limitations of space and material. Barry thus encourages the free association of meanings to his works.

A multiple documenta participant, Robert Barry has been honored with numerous solo exhibitions and has works in all major museums.


Works for listening