Essential Viewing: Eric Orr Film Documentary “Crazy Wisdom”


Judy Chicago, Lloyd Hamrol, Eric Orr, “Dry Ice Environment #2“, 1968

Eric Orr Film Documentary

I hold these works of Eric Orr very dear to my heart as I had the honor and the pleasure of representing and exhibiting the artist from 1984 until 1994, when I moved my gallery to Santa Monica. Eric Orr was an incredible artist and his works are vastly underappreciated in the context of both Light and Space works from the West Coast and his painting and sculpture of the Eighties and Nineties. I would highly recommend that you view the excellent film on his life and work recently released by his daughter, Elizabeth Orr. 

The film is called “Crazy Wisdom,” in honor of the kind of holy madness that Orr admired in Buddhist thought, and that he lived every moment of his life. Peggy Orr says that her husband was “a showman, a personality, a genius…” His friends, interviewed by Elizabeth for her film, concur, and have a few more comments on top of that. For your reference, you can view a two-minute trailer for this film online at the following link:



ERIC ORR (1939-1998)
Without Red, 1983
Oil, blood, and chinese hair on canvas with lead frame and gold leaf
29 × 24 × 1 1/2 in / 73.7 × 61 × 3.8 cm

In both his installations, sculpture and paintings, Eric Orr worked with elemental qualities of natural materials; stone, metal, water, and fire, gold leaf, lead, blood, human skull, and AM/FM radio parts. Orr worked with the phenomenological exploration of perception. His body of work also includes monochromatic paintings, and large-scale fountains (with water & fire). His work was influenced by a religio-philosophical conceptualization of space icons found in ancient religions and cultures, such as Egyptian symbolism and Buddhist Spiritualism. Orr is associated with Light and Space, a group of mostly West Coast artists whose work is primarily concerned with perceptual experience stemming from the viewer’s interaction with their work. “The space itself changes you, instead of an object.”

He was “an outlaw,” says Kent Hodgetts, “a raconteur,” says Larry Bell, “terrifically literate,” says Maurice Tuchman. Susan Kaiser Vogel remembers his “unconditional friendship,” and that he provided “adventures in the crazy zone.” Orr was, in fact, California’s version of Yves Klein, a metaphysical adventurer who was unafraid of limits and who saw potential where others saw impediments and voids.


Eric Orr
Zero Mass, 1972-1973,
Seamless paper, plywood panels and gelled light fixtures, dimensions variable
144 × 480 × 138 inches
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Panza Collection, Gift, 1991

By his death in 1998, Eric Orr had fearlessly taken his experiential art in an astonishing range of directions, while at the same time remaining interested in essential experiences and elements. He might have been surprised to find that his work has had a kind of reincarnation through the efforts of his children. “I also relate to early Buddhism in that I have no sense of the afterlife,” he once told me. “I think we’re like television sets, and when we die, the off button is pushed and the show is over.”

#laart #laartist #losangelesart #losangelesartist #losangelesartists #abstractart #modernart #contemporaryart #dailyart #instaart #artcollectors #artcollector #artcritic #collector #modernartist #contemporaryartist #abstractartist #artcollective #arte #kunst #markmoorefineart #markmooregallery #ericorr #crazywisdom

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