Robert Barry (artist)

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Robert Barry
Born March 9, 1936
The Bronx, New York
Nationality American
Field Conceptual art, Idea art

Robert Barry (born March 9, 1936 in the Bronx, New York) is an American artist. Since 1967, Barry has produced non-material works of art, installations, and performance art using a variety of otherwise invisible media. In 1968, Robert Barry is quoted as saying "Nothing seems to me the most potent thing in the world." [1] Barry's work focuses on escaping the previously known physical limits of the art object in order to express the unknown or unperceived.[2] Consequently, Barry has explored a number of different avenues toward defining the usually unseen space around objects, rather than producing the objects themselves.

Barry was born and grew up in The Bronx. A graduate of Hunter College, he studied there under artists William Baziotes and Robert Motherwell, later joining the college's faculty. Barry moved to Teaneck, New Jersey in 1974.[3]

Major nonvisible works from his early period include Carrier Wave, in which Barry used the carrier waves of a radio station for a prescribed length of time "not as a means of transmitting information, but rather as an object.",[4] Radiation Piece, and Inert Gas Piece, in which Barry opened various containers of inert gases in different settings before groups of spectators, such as a canister of helium released in a desert.[5]

When asked about his piece for exhibition "Prospect '69," his response was "The piece consists of the ideas that people will have from reading this interview... The piece in its entirety is unknowable because it exists in the mind of so many people. Each person can really know that part which is in his own mind."[citation needed]

Robert Barry is represented in Paris and New York by Yvon Lambert Gallery.


  1. ^ Lucy R. Lippard, Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972 (New York, Praeger, 1973), p. 40
  2. ^ Goldstein and Rorimer, Museum of Conceptual Art catalog, Reconsidering the Object of Art: 1965 to 1975, ISBN 0-262-57111-0
  3. ^ Genocchio, Benjamin. "A Career Built on Exploring the Boundaries of Art", The New York Times, November 30, 2003. Accessed December 6, 2009. "When, in 1974, he took up residence in Teaneck, with his wife and two sons, he was a young artist and lecturer at Hunter College in New York."
  4. ^ Kristine Stiles, Peter Howard Selz, Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art (University of California Press, 1996), p. 839, ISBN 0-520-20251-1
  5. ^


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