Dan Flavin: 1933-1996

Dan Flavin was one of the first artists to take the everyday commercial fluorescent tube and achieve true illumination. In his hands, these commonplace objects became his palate - bold colours painted brutally simply in empty environments. His minimalist leanings were perfectly suited to this new medium and he learnt to fill the room with colour in an effortless new style of painting that made a canvas of the entire room. His installations, or as he termed them 'situations' transformed empty spaces into three-dimensional epiphanies. 

The Diagonal of May 25 - 1963

The Diagonal of May 25 - 1963

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.

When Flavin adopted the industrial light as his new brush, fluorescents were not seen as particularly pleasant - they had a cold, utilitarian aspect to them, harshly lighting the modern techno-industrial complex. Perhaps they were most synonymous with sterile offices where worker drones were hived in endless, uniform, depressing regularity. Their light was unforgiving, with no subtly, little warmth and not particularly easy on the eye. Yet in Flavin's radical hands, these beacons of capitalist efficiency became the very stuff of art.

Flavin used colour boldly, his minimalist background finding the perfect outlet through the brilliant bold colours that electricity could create. He experimented endlessly to combine colour and shape into new geometries - abstract spaces where perceptions of light expanding exponentially.  

He nearly always using a limited ‘palette’ of four standard lengths of tube in ten colours, including four different whites. These were combined, arranged and aligned to create works of radical simplicity.

Through his exploration Flavin pushed the boundaries of this new material, dissolving light and space into an architectural playground where he could craft new stories through the interplay of the hard and cold edges of fluorescent light, and find meaning at the edges and intersections of this brave new world of brightness.

You can find much more information here on the wonderful Artsy site which I've just discovered and now love! It contains information on his work, his shows, and his sales. 

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