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"Monument" for V. Tatlin

  • 1964
  • Dan Flavin
  • Arrangement of 8 white fluorescent tubes
  • L'ensemble : 244.0 x 80.0 x 7.0 cm - 2 réglettes : 122.0 x 10.0 x 7.0 cm - 2 réglettes : 61.0 x 10.0 x 7.0 cm - 2 réglettes : 183.0 x 10.0 x 7.0 cm - 2 réglettes : 244.0 x 10.0 x 7.0 cm

Flavin’s work rejects all religious and mystical interpretations of light, expressing itself solely as a reference to its own presence – it is “situational” in nature, focusing on the physical space occupied by the artwork and the viewer’s interaction with it. During the 1960s and 70s, Flavin began to create more complex configurations such as simple structures, corner installations and his “barred corridors”. The scale of his works increased to inhabit every nook and cranny of the spaces, stretching from floor to ceiling and along walls, picture rails and corridors. At the same time the artist explored different variations and intensities of color, which he adjusted depending on the length, number and arrangement of tubes, placed vertically and horizontally as well as diagonally. From the 1970s onwards, the architectural settings Flavin worked on became increasingly monumental, leading him to focus on site-specific installations. Throughout his career, Flavin’s highest ambition was to offer sensory experiences of space by transforming it and enriching it using simple interactions of light.

Between 1964 and 1973 he developed a series of variations of “Monuments for Tatlin”, in homage to the Russian Constructivist Vladimir Tatlin who also combined art and industry.

© Adagp, Paris, 2019 © Fondation Louis Vuitton / Marc Domage

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Dan Flavin

In 1963, Dan Flavin began working with the medium of light: functional fluorescent tubes exhibited in their original state, without alteration or decoration.

Flavin took drawing and painting classes at Columbia University and discovered the work of Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock and Jasper Johns. Between 1961 and 1963, he used lighting in his series Icons, comprising square structures with incandescent and fluorescent bulbs attached to their sides.

On 25 May 1963, he placed a 244-cm gold-coloured fluorescent light on the wall of his workshop at a 45-degree angle. Titled the "Diagonal of Personal Ecstasy (the Diagonal of May 25, 1963)”, it represented the moment of “epiphany” in his career.

Dan Flavin became one of the representatives of minimalist art alongside Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt and Carl Andre, and took part in the movement’s seminal shows of the 1960s: Black, White and Grey (Wadsworth Museum, Hartford) in 1964, and Primary Structures (Jewish Museum, New York) in 1966.

His work favours the repetition of elementary forms and the rejection of representation, illusionism and metaphor. Its only reference is to reality, context, and the spectator’s perception. Flavin’s first solo show, which featured only fluorescent tubes, was held at the Green Gallery in New York in 1964. It was a chance for the artist to experiment in situa with the way light alters the physical perception of a space.

Starting with his series Monuments for V. Tatlinn (1964-1990), the fluorescent tube became an element of construction, allowing the artist to scale up the proportions, combinations and dimensions of his installations. During the 1970s, Flavin worked in increasingly monumental settings, and created many site-specific installations, some temporary.

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