Robert Barry was born in 1936 in New York where he lives and works.
He studied and graduated from Hunter College, The City University of New York, in Fine Arts, Master of Arts,
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”.
Barry’s work focuses on escaping the previously known physical limits of the art object in order to express the unknown or unperceived.
Transcending the physical limitations of space and material, he has employed radio waves as medium, and performance, installation, and attempted telepathy as technique, challenging what would be accepted as “typical” artistic practice or experience. For his word list installations, Barry imprints capitalized words directly on walls or surfaces to evoke narrative and inspire contemplation. Barry encourages free association of meaning to his work.
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.”, 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.
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”.
Barry’s work has been shown in international events such as the Paris Biennale (1971), Documenta, Kassel (1972), and the Venice Biennale (1972).
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.