Dan Flavin

Long-term view, Dia:Beacon

Collection Display

Few artists are more identified with a particular medium than Dan Flavin. After 1963 Flavin’s work was composed almost entirely of light, in the form of commercially available fluorescent tubes in ten colors (blue, green, pink, red, yellow, ultraviolet, and four whites) and five shapes (one circular and four straight fixtures of different lengths). He arranged fixtures in varying autonomous configurations, as in the series of “monuments” for V. Tatlin (1964–90), and then increasingly in color and in relation to architecture, exemplified by his monumental barriers that physically block a passageway or segment of a space with light.

Flavin once summed up his practice as “decisions to combine traditions of painting and sculpture in architecture with acts of electric light defining space.” His simplified formal vocabulary can be related to the work of contemporaries such as Carl Andre, Walter De Maria, and Donald Judd, in its reduction of formal devices, emphasis on serial and rational rather than gestural forms, and focus on the phenomenological presence of the works rather than their narrative implications. 

Despite dedicating many of his untitled works to individuals or ideas, and his deep awareness of the historical symbolism of light in art, Flavin always refused to attach any transcendent significance to his works. As he explained, he always titled his “monuments” in quotes to emphasize the irony of such temporary commemorative structures, whose parts have a limited life span and need to be replaced regularly.

Artist

Dan Flavin

Books

FLA EN_for web

Photo: Ethan Harrison

Dan Flavin: A Retrospective

Tiffany Bell and Michael Govan

This landmark book features the artist’s most significant light works, plus reproductions of Flavin's drawings.

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FLA_for web_Photo Don Stahl

Photo: Don Stahl

Dan Flavin: The Complete Lights, 1961–1996

Tiffany Bell and Michael Govan

A complete study of the stunning light works by Dan Flavin.

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