The Dan Flavin Art Institute, in Bridgehampton, New York, opens its summer 2003 season on May 22 with the exhibition "icons, 1961-1963," which continues from last year, 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 since 1983 been supported and maintained by Dia Art Foundation for public exhibition each summer.
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. In his series "icons," Flavin combined painted boxes with fluorescent and incandescent lights in a manner whose hallmark is simplicity and explicitness. These works mark the burgeoning of Flavin's use of fluorescent light as a medium and are among the works by him 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 of his works traces the artist's practice from 1963-when he decided to work solely with standard fluorescent fixtures and tubes-to 1981, when the presentation was realized. In creating this exhibition, Flavin conceived of the sculptures 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 22 through September 21, 2003. Admission is free.
Dia Art Foundation was founded in 1974. A nonprofit institution, Dia plays a vital role among visual arts organizations 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 exhibitions and public programming at Dia Center for the Arts in New York City, and maintains long-term, site-specific projects in the western United States, in New York City, and on Long Island. On May 18, 2003, Dia is opening Dia:Beacon, a new museum in Beacon, New York, sixty miles north of New York City, to house its renowned permanent collection.
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, including works from the "monuments" to V. Tatlin series, which will be featured in a long-term installation at Dia:Beacon. Beginning April 12, 2003, Vassar College's Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, in Poughkeepsie, New York, will exhibit rarely seen drawings from Dia's Hudson River School collection. The exhibition features some forty works, collected by Dan Flavin for Dia in the late 1970s and early 1980s, comprising pencil and crayon sketches and oil studies. The exhibition will be on view through June 15, 2003. For more information, please 845 437-5632 or visit www.fllac.vassar.edu.