Celebrate Dan Flavin’s Birthday Today With 5 of His Most Memorable Fluorescents
His design for a church in Milan was completed two days before his death.
Today would have marked the 82nd birthday of Dan Flavin, the priest-turned-soldier-turned-artist. To celebrate the birth of the multifaceted artist, we’ve gathered a few of his most prominent exhibitions.
“One might not think of light as a matter of fact, but I do. And it is, as I said, as plain and open and direct an art as you will ever find”—Dan Flavin, 1987
1. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1992
The Jamaica-born artist enjoyed an arresting retrospective at the Guggenheim in 1992. His show of large-scale electric light sculptures included the important installation untitled (to Tracy, to celebrate the love of a lifetime) (1992).
1A. untitled (to Ward Jackson, an old friend and colleague who, during the Fall of 1957 when I finally returned to New York from Washington and joined him to work together in this museum, kindly communicated), 1971
In conjunction with untitled (to Tracy, to celebrate the love of a lifetime) (1992), above, this installation (originally created for the 1971 Guggenheim International Exhibition with fluorescent tubing along the walls of a ramp), was expanded and presented again in the summer of 1992, turning the rotunda, and the museum’s facade, into a parade of blue, green, and yellow lights.
2. “Dan Flavin: A Retrospective,” 2001
Realized in 1973, the work untitled (to you, Heiner, with admiration and affection), one of Flavin’s early barrier pieces, was shown again in 2001 at Dia Art Foundation’s “Dan Flavin: A Retrospective” (following its installation at Kunsthalle Köln in 1973, the work was not shown again until this 2001 show). The installation traveled from 2004 to 2007 and remains at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich. The piece is dedicated to Heiner Friedrich, who supported Flavin’s work in his capacities both as an art dealer and one of the founders of the Dia Art Foundation in 1974.
3. Chinati Foundation Marfa, Texas, 1996
Ultraviolet-lit corridors inundated the Texan desert space. Though Flavin’s work for Chinati began in the 1980’s, he only completed the six building project at the Foundation in 1996. The installation was then inaugurated at the museum’s annual Open House in 2000. Two connecting light-barrier corridors were constructed at the extremities of each building.
4. Church of Santa Maria Annunziata in Chiesa Rossa Milan, 1996
The design, a prime example of the symbiotic relationship between Flavin’s work space and his sculptures, was completed two days before his death on November 26, 1996. It is the last artwork Flavin created and was installed with the help of the Dia Art Foundation and the Fondazione Prada (commissioners of the work). This permanent installation gracefully showcases Flavin’s examination of his art within architectural constructs.
5. National Gallery of Art Washington, DC Retrospective, 2004
The gridded untitled (in honor of Harold Joachim)3, (1977) was one of 44 light installations offered by the museum. The exhibition was organized in conjunction with the Dia Art Foundation. The show included Flavin’s early “icons,” his “monuments” to V. Tatlin, corridor and barrier works. Some of Flavin’s rare sketches, drawings, and collages were also on view. The exhibition ran from October 2004 to January 2005.
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