Robert Barry

(b. 1936, New York, lives and works in Teaneck, New Jersey)

“I like to use words because they come from us. They don’t exist in nature. Even as silent objects, they speak to us. I’m not telling a story, or creating a narrative, or even commenting on the space. In fact, I try to activate the space around the words. Hopefully the viewers will see themselves reflected in the words, in more ways than one.” Robert Barry (2010)

Words are the backbone of Robert Barry’s artistic oeuvre and he has compiled lists of them intuitively over the years, creating new meanings through the way they are used, where and how they are positioned. They evoke mental states of flux or contemplation and declare to the viewer a temporal and psychic intangibility. Rather than analytical or critical language, or part of a text, these words are used individually for their capability to suggest impressions a work of art can engender. They work through insinuation and they address a multiplicity of senses that involve associations with the architectural or psychological context they are meant to evoke.

A second constant of Barry’s work is a focus on space and the space between: objects/words, time, the artist and the viewer. The “idea” of an artwork is as important as the actual object. The manifestation of this credo has led Barry to explore the dematerialization of the art object via working in a variety of unorthodox and sometimes intangible media such as magnetism, thoughts, ultrasonic sound and inert gases.