Dan Flavin (1971)

Installed: May 14, 2016 - Summer, 2017

Yerba Buena: 151 Third Street, SFMOMA

During its exhibition at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), untitled (to Barnett Newman) two demonstrated how light is color, color is light, and the interaction of either creates the illusion of dynamism as they play against, or in harmony with, one another and the environment. The title is in dedication to the American abstract expressionist painter Barnett Newman, a friend of the artist’s who died in 1970. While Flavin's work is work often contextualized with other Minimalist artists, his emphasis on light and its effects align him strongly with Op art, whose practitioners explored variations in color and shape based on differences in light.

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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