© Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images
Dan Flavin

© Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images

Dan Flavin

1933-1996, in New York (United States)

Died in 1996 (United States) 

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.

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 situ with the way light alters the physical perception of a space.

Starting with his series Monuments for V. Tatlin (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.


Fuchs, Rainer ; Kraus, Karola ; Neuner, Stefan ; Rebentisch , Juliane ; Wäspe, Roland. Dan Flavin : lights [exposition, Wien, Museum moderner kunst stiftung Ludwig Wien, october 13, 2012 – february3, 2013 ; Saint Gallen, Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, March 16 - August 18, 2013]. Wien ; Ostfildern : Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien ; Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2012. 978-3-902490-94-0 

Auping, Michael ; Whitney, Alexandra. Dan Flavin : corners, barriers and corridors [exposition, New York , David Zirner , September 10 - October 24 , 2015]. New York : David Zwirner, 2016. 978-1-941701-18-8 

Govan, Michael ; Bell, Tiffany, Dia art foundation (New York, N.Y.) ; National gallery ofart (Washington, D.C.) ; Musée d'art moderne de la ville de Paris (Paris), Pagé, Suzanne ; Parent, Béatrice ; Burluraux, Odile. Dan Flavin, une retrospective : [exposition], Musée d'art moderne de la ville de Paris, 9 juin-8 octobre 2006 ; [National Gallery of Art, Washington, 3 octobre 2004-9 janvier 2005 ; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, 25 février-5 juin 2005 ; Museum ofContemporary Art, Chicago, 1 juillet- 30 octobre 2005 ; Hayward Gallery, Londres, 19 janvier-2 avril 2006 ; Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, 15 novembre 2006-4 mars 2007]. Paris : Paris-Musées, 2006. 978-0-944521-53-3 

Museum of contemporary art (Los Angeles, Calif.) ; Leo Castelli gallery (New York, N.Y.), BrownTurrell, Julia. "Monuments" for V. Tatlin from Dan Flavin, 1964-1982 : [exhibition, Museum ofContemporary Art, Los Angeles, April 21-June 17, 1984 ; Concoran Gallery of Art in Washington,September 29-November 25, 1984 ; Musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux, March 1-April 28, 1985 ;Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, November 23, 1985-January 12, 1986]. Chicago : Donald YoungGallery, 1985. 

Solomon R. Guggenheim foundation (New York, N.Y.). Dan Flavin : the architecture of light : [exhibition, Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin, November 6, 1999-February 13, 2000]. New York : Guggenheim Museum Publications, 1999. 978-0-8109-6926-1 

***   All materials available at the Documentation Centre of the Fondation   ***

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