A modern garden by Robert Irwin in a museum designed by Richard Meier. Irwin is an installation artist and was a member of California's 'light and space' movement in the 1960's. He described his work for the Getty as 'a sculpture in the form of a garden aspiring to be art.' The clinical abstraction of the building contrasts with the rich textures of the garden. The garden was designed by the artist Robert Irwin 1992-7. He worked with the architect of the Getty Centre, Richard Meier, and with the landscape architecture firm Spurlock Poirier. The design of the garden re-establishes the natural ravine between the Museum and the Research Institute. A tree-lined walkway crosses the stream passing through areas of exotic grasses and descends to a plaza with bougainvillea arbors. The stream flows through the plaza and cascades over a stone waterfall into a pool. There are special gardens round the pool with the plants and hard materials selected for their interplay of color, light, and reflections. The garden provides a campus setting for the immaculate white travertine buildings and there panoramic views of Los Angeles.
'In the studio you may reference nature but you also reference all art. The big shift for me is that my art practice is now not so much referenced art historically as it is conditionally. When I confront a space with its specific set of conditions, I try to take into account everything bearing on it. For example, a sense of scale is not only in and of itself but is equally conditioned by where you arrive from-the scale of the New York subway or the big sky country of Montana. I try to take all of this into account' Jan Butterfield, Robert Irwin: The Art of Light and Space (New York: Abbeville Press, 1993), p. 63