I found these words in the book Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: Over Thirty Years of Conversations with Robert Irwin.
a photograph would capture none of what the painting was about and everything that it was not about. That is, a photograph could convey image but not presence.
According to his Wikipedia page, Robert Irwin was (he died in 2023) “an American installation artist who explored perception and the conditional in art, often through site-specific, architectural interventions that alter the physical, sensory and temporal experience of space.”
This drew my attention, because it reminds me of discussions I’ve had with other Lacanian psychoanalysts regarding the different between virtual/screen mediated sessions and sessions with the analyst and the analysand bring their real bodies to a specific place.
There is much to consider here…
For context, here is the line quoted above in the full paragraph where I read it. I’ve bolted the line so it stands out.
For many years Robert Irwin forbade photographic reproduction of his paintings. An early intuition in this regard hardened into an absolute conviction during the time he was creating his line, dot, and disc paintings. As will be seen in the text that follows, Irwin felt that a photograph would capture none of what the painting was about and everything that it was not about. That is, a photograph could convey image but not presence. Furthermore, many of the works of Irwin's middle years, particularly the late lines and the dot paintings, are virtually unreproducible: not even the "image" of the original, as it were, finds its way to the con- tact sheet. Which is why the first edition of this book, published in 1982, included no photographs of Irwin's work from 1957 through 1969.