Robert Barry (artist)


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]

Robert Barry
BornMarch 9, 1936
Alma materHunter College
Known forConceptual art, Idea art

Life and careerEdit

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, with his wife and two sons.[2]


Barry's work focuses on escaping the previously known physical limits of the art object in order to express the unknown or unperceived.[3] Consequently, Barry has explored a number of different avenues toward defining the usually unseen space around objects, rather than producing the objects themselves.

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."[6]


Barry's work has been shown in international events such as the Paris Biennale (1971), Documenta, Kassel (1972), and the Venice Biennale (1972).[7]

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

  • "SOMETHING IN A BOX by Robert Barry and other things in boxes by Philippe Cazal, Braco Dimitrijevic, Paul-Armand Gette and UNTEL", 2014, galerie mfc-michèle didier, Paris.
  • "Taking your time - Robert Barry", 2012, gallery mfc-michèle didier, Paris.


Barry is included in the permanent collections of renowned museums including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Musée d’Orsay, Paris; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Musée National D’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.[8]


  1. ^ Lucy R. Lippard, Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972 (New York, Praeger, 1973), p. 40
  2. ^ 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."
  3. ^ Goldstein and Rorimer, Museum of Conceptual Art catalog, Reconsidering the Object of Art: 1965 to 1975, ISBN 0-262-57111-0
  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. ^ "Frieze Magazine | Archive | Archive | Robert Barry". Archived from the original on 2008-12-02.
  6. ^ Excerpt from interview in the exhibition catalog of Prospect69 at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, 1969. Reprint found in "Das Künstlerinterview: Analyse eines Kunstprodukts" By Christoph Lichtin, 2004 p.75. ISBN 3-03910-346-6,+barry&source=bl&ots=USJj770Srx&sig=icJM7E7cdx64hPf1-5OzF4Icc20&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CDcQ6AEwBGoVChMIx_j118ezyAIVQ-gsCh3Qgg_S#v=onepage&q=prospect69%2C%20barry&f=false
  7. ^ Light and Dark - The Projections of Robert Barry 1967 - 2012, December 14, 2012 - January 26, 2013 Archived July 15, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Yvon Lambert Gallery.
  8. ^ Light and Dark - The Projections of Robert Barry 1967 - 2012, December 14, 2012 - January 26, 2013 Archived July 15, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Yvon Lambert Gallery.


  • Luca Cerizza, ed. (2008). Robert Barry: Real ...... Personal. JRP Ringier. ISBN 978-3905701487.
  • Robert Barry, ed. (2004). Robert Barry: Some Places To Which We Can Come 1963-1975. Kerber. ISBN 978-3936646351.

External linksEdit

  • Oral history interview with Robert Barry, 2010 May 14-15 from the Smithsonian Archives of American Art
  • Galeria Jaqueline Martins