Live Now on Artnet Auctions: A Fluorescent Dan Flavin Light Fixture That Affirms the Sculptor’s Motto of ‘Art is Thought’

The sculpture is emblematic of the sculptor's mature work.

Dan Flavin, Untitled (to Brad Gillaugh), 1970. This work is number one from an edition of five, of which four were fabricated. Est. $250,000–300,000.

“I like art as thought better than art as work,” sculptor Dan Flavin once said. “I’ve always maintained this. It’s important to me that I don’t get my hands dirty. It’s not because I’m instinctively lazy. It’s a declaration: art is thought.”

Flavin, a pioneer of Minimalism, was known for his illuminated sculptures that offer rigorous formal and conceptual investigations of space and light. Untitled (to Brad Gillaugh) (1970), a fluorescent sculpture representative of Flavin’s conceptual oeuvre, is now available now in “Post-War and Contemporary Art” on Artnet Auctions.

The Minimalist light fixture, made up of red, cool white, and pink fluorescent light tubes, is emblematic of Flavin’s mature work. As was common practice for the artist, Untitled (to Brad Gillaugh) pays homage to a close friend, Brad Gillaugh, a former operations manager at Leo Castelli Gallery in New York who was involved with several of Flavin’s exhibitions.

A true Minimalist, Flavin was reluctant to ascribe transcendent meaning to his sculptures, relying first and foremost on the semantics of their formal language. Untitled (to Brad Gillaugh) gives off a far-reaching glow when mounted on the wall, creating a relationship between art and architecture. The luminescence takes on a life of its own, warping and distorting the composition of the space it inhabits, with a stunning and inimitable visual effect.

Flavin first began experimenting with fluorescent lights in 1961, while working as a guard at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. He embraced the temporary nature of the medium—which often shattered or blew out—and his dedication to simple forms and industrial materials positioned him alongside the likes of Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt.

Works by Dan Flavin consistently sell for more than their high estimate, signaling a high demand.

Over the past decade, Flavin has seen success on the secondary market, with a record breaking $3 million sale in 2014. His light installations consistently sell above their high estimates, signaling a strong demand from collectors. Few opportunities to collect fluorescent works from the mature period in Flavin’s career arose in 2021, making Untitled (to Brad Gillaugh) a rare and exquisite collecting opportunity.

“Post-War and Contemporary Art” is live now through March 23—don’t miss your chance to bid.

Please don’t hesitate to contact the specialist for this work, Johannes Vogt, head of post-war and contemporary art, with any questions or concerns: [email protected].

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