Dan Flavin, Light:
Few artists have been more readily identified with a particular medium than Dan Flavin (b. 1933, New York City; d. 1993, Riverhead, New York). From 1963 through the remainder of his career, Flavin’s work was composed almost entirely of light in the form of commercially available fluorescent tubes in ten colors (blue, green, pink, red, ultraviolet, yellow, and four shades of white) and five shapes (one circular and four straight fixtures of varying lengths).
As a pioneering Minimalist, Flavin aimed to expand his practice beyond the confines of painting and sculpture along with peers like Carl Andre and Donald Judd. Shifting away from the overly gestural canvases of the Abstract Expressionists, they embraced a simplified vocabulary that emphasized seriality and reduced formal devices. Light, with its few limitations and transformative abilities, represented for Flavin an antidote to gestural painting. In his 1965 essay “ . . . in daylight or cool white,” Flavin summed up his practice as “decisions to combine traditions of painting and sculpture in architecture with acts of electric light defining space.” The result is a phenomenological experience where the work of art must be experienced in person by a viewer.
Dan Flavin was born in 1933 in New York City. Flavin enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1953 and was stationed a year later at the Fifth Air Force Headquarters in Osan, Republic of Korea, where he served as a meteorological aide. He returned to New York in 1956, where he studied art history at the New School for Social Research and Columbia University. In 1961 he had his first solo exhibition at the Judson Gallery, New York. Later that year he began experimenting with electric light in a series of works called “icons,” which led him to his first work made solely of fluorescent light, the diagonal of May 25, 1963 (to Constantin Brancusi) (1963). Major exhibitions of Flavin’s work include those at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1967), the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1969), and the Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden (1989). In 2004 Dia organized a traveling retrospective in association with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. In 1983 Dia opened the Dan Flavin Art Institute, a permanent exhibition designed by the artist in a former firehouse and Baptist church in Bridgehampton, New York. Flavin died in 1996 in Riverhead, New York.;
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Dan Flavin, Light : 1963-19742018.01.26.FRI - 04.08.SUN
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