Dan Flavin 1933-1996


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Dan Flavin is an American minimalist sculptor most famous for his fluorescent light installations. Flavin grew up attending Catholic schools and was studying for priesthood until he decided to enlist in the Air Force during WWII. After the war, he returned to New York, where he found work as a security guard at the Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and American Museum of Natural History. While at the MoMA, Flavin met minimalist artists as Sol LeWitt and Robert Ryman. Though Flavin was influenced by his contemporaries, he began working with assemblages of mixed media collages. He was interested in the idea of ready-mades and found himself gravitating towards the use of electric lights in sculpture.


His first series of fluorescent installations made between 1961 and 1964 were called Icons, which are monochromatic, wooden boxes with light bulbs attached to edges. From there, Flavin chose a limited pallet of colors and created light "corner pieces," "barriers" and "corridors." Flavin was like no other minimalist because he was able to create a two-dimensional illusion using light to transform a given space. Flavin said that light was "as plain and open and direct an art as you will ever find." Flavin has been commissioned for installations around the world, and his highest auction record was reached in 2014 with the sale of Alternate Diagonals of March 2, 1964 (to Don Judd) (1964) for $2.6 million.


 Dan Flavin's work is featured in the permanent collections of San Diego MCA, the MCA in Los Angeles, the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, the Denver Art Museum, the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Des Moines Art Center, the Detroit Institute of Arts, Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Dan Flavin Art Institute in Bridgehampton, the Dia Art Foundation in New York, the MoMA in New York, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, the Dallas Museum of Art and the Fort Worth Art Museum.


Related Categories: Minimalism, Art of the 1960s, Light, Post-War American Art, Primary Abstraction, Sparse, Abstract Sculpture, Light as Subject, Line, Form and Color, Angular, Site Specific Art, Sculpture, Linear Forms, Large-Scale Sculpture, United States, Drawing, Work on Paper, Patterns.