Dan Flavin (1963)

Installed: May 14, 2016 - Summer, 2017

Yerba Buena: 151 Third Street, SFMOMA

During its exhibition at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), the diagonal of May 25, 1963 (to Constantin Brancusi) celebrated movement by exploiting the speed and liveliness implied by the diagonal. Having studied and admired readymades by Marcel Duchamp, the artist was searching for a simple object to claim for his art. He realized the potential of the fluorescent bulb as a basic form that could be built upon and indefinitely repeated, not unlike the grooved design of Brancusi's Endless Column. Using neon tubing as his medium, Flavin created his iconic diagona in blue fluorescent light from his sketch "diagonal of personal ecstasy," made earlier on the same day.

Artist: Dan Flavin created light installations (or “situations” as he preferred to call them) utilizing fluorescent light tubing that became icons of Minimalism. After a brief stint at seminary and meteorological training in the military, the artist pursued his studies in the late 1950s at Columbia University and the New School. Flavin began incorporating electric lights into his works in the early 1960s with his breakthrough Icons series. Having hit upon his chosen medium, he abandoned painting altogether, focusing on light works for the remainder of his career. Working with prefabricated rather than handcrafted materials allowed him to focus on the light itself and the way in which it “sculpted" the exhibition space. His wall- and floor-mounted site-specific fixtures, composed of intersecting and parallel lines of light in conventional colors, flood spaces with their glow. By basing his work as much in radiated light as in the bulbs themselves, Flavin set the stage for much of the experience-oriented installation work that continues today.

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