The Dan Flavin Art Institute, in Bridgehampton, New York, opens for its summer 2002 season on May 23 with a special exhibition, "icons, 1961-1963," and the Institute's permanent installation of nine fluorescent light works. Together, these exhibitions offer an overview of Flavin's work from his early experiments with electric light through his adoption of standard fluorescent fixtures and tubes as the primary medium for his artwork. This single-artist museum, built by and for Flavin, has been supported and maintained by Dia Art Foundation for public exhibition each summer since 1983.
On view in the first-floor gallery, "icons, 1961-1963" includes works that represent early manifestations of the artist's enduring preoccupation with simple forms and electric light. For this series, Flavin combined painted boxes with fluorescent and incandescent lights in a manner that emphasizes simplicity and explicitness. The works mark the development of Flavin's use of fluorescent light as a medium and are among the works by the artist that are now considered a cornerstone of the art of the 1960s. Planned by Flavin for the second-floor gallery of the Bridgehampton space, the permanent installation of nine works traces the artist's practice from 1963-when he decided to work solely with standard fluorescent fixtures and tubes-to 1981. In creating this exhibition, Flavin conceived of the lights and the architecture as a single, continuous installation. By manipulating the formal, phenomenal, and referential characteristics of light, the installation asks viewers to consider a series of contrasts-between colors, intensities of light, structure and formlessness, the obvious and the mysterious, and the serious and the humorous.
Born in 1933 in New York City, where he later studied art history at the New School for Social Research, Dan Flavin exhibited nationally from 1963 onward. He lived and worked for most of the last twenty years of his life in Bridgehampton and Wainscott, Long Island. Flavin died on November 29, 1996.
The Dan Flavin Art Institute
The Dan Flavin Art Institute is located in the former First Baptist Church of Bridgehampton. Originally built as a firehouse in 1908, the building operated as a church from 1924 to the mid-1970s. In 1979, Dia purchased the building to use as a gallery for Dan Flavin. The building was renovated under the direction of the artist with the assistance of Dia's James Schaeufele and architect Richard Gluckman. The renovation evokes the building's former uses: a newel post in the entrance hall is painted red in memory of the building's years as a firehouse, and the original church doors have been moved to the entrance of a small exhibition space on the second floor that contains memorabilia, including a neon cross, collected from and about the church.
The Dan Flavin Art Institute is located on Corwith Avenue, off Main Street. Hours are Thursday through Sunday, 12 noon to 6 pm, May 23 through September 15, 2002. Admission is free.
Founded in 1974, Dia Art Foundation plays a vital and singular role among visual arts institutions nationally and internationally by initiating, supporting, presenting, and preserving art projects, and by serving as a primary locus for interdisciplinary art and criticism.
Dia presents a program of exhibitions at Dia Center for the Arts in Chelsea, New York City. Supplementary programming at Dia Center for the Arts includes artists' projects for the web, lectures, poetry readings, film and video screenings, performances, scholarly research and publications, symposia, and an arts education program that serves area students. Dia is currently constructing a new museum in Beacon, New York, sixty miles north of New York City, to house its permanent collection. Dia:Beacon will open in spring 2003.
In addition to maintaining the Dan Flavin Art Institute, Dia's support for Flavin and his work includes the commission of site-specific installations in Marfa, Texas; Grand Central Station, New York City; and, most recently, in 1996, for the staircases of Dia's exhibition facility at 548 West 22nd Street, New York City. Dia's permanent collection includes more than forty additional works by the artist, a selection of which will be featured in a long-term installation at the museum in Beacon.
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