Dan Flavin (1933 – 1996) began to use commercially available fluorescent light tubes in 1963. This work marries color and light, bringing them into three dimensions. In dialogue withe surrounding space, the vertical and horizontal tubes both illuminate and obscure the corner — a location not typically used for displaying art. Though the emitted light transcends its physical encasement and transforms the surrounding space, Flavin avoided characterizing his work as sublime and instead considered his light installation as “situations” or proposals. “One might not think of light as a matter of fact, but I do,” he stated. “And it is…as plain and open and direct an art as you will ever find.”
Ivan Navarro uses electric light as his primary medium, appropriate the austere visual language of Minimalism and imbuing it with political resonance. For Homeless Lamp, the Juice Sucker (2004–05), he built a grocery cart out of fluorescent tubes and, with it, wandered to the gallery-lined streets of Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. The luminous sculpture evokes the work of Dan Flavin while also referencing an object commonly repurposed by homeless people for storage and transportation.
Scored to the Mexican revolutionary song “Juan Sin Tierra” (John the Landless), the accompanying documentary video follows Navarro and a friend as they search for public electricity with which to eliminate the sculpture. presenting the artist as a transient figure, Navarro offers a personal allegory for his early attempts to gain access to the New York art world as well as the difficulties faced by migrants in establishing connections with the place to which they have relocated.
Photographed at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City during the Storylines exhibit in 2015.
Untitled (To Barry, Mike, Chuck and Leonard) 1972 – 1975 (All Photos By Gail)
Dan Flavin (April 1, 1933 – November 29, 1996) was an American minimalist artist famous for creating gorgeous sculptural objects and installations from commercially available fluorescent light fixtures. David Zwirner Gallery which represents Flavin’s estate, is currently hosting an exhibition of the artist’s significant Corner, Barrier and Corridor works from the late 1960s and early 1970s at its West 20th Street in New York. This is a must-see exhibit.
The exhibition at David Zwirner examines how Flavin established and redefined space through light constructions in three formats that were at the core of his practice. The artist’s “corner,” “barrier” and “corridor” works explicitly implicate their surrounding architecture while physically mediating the viewers’ experience and perception of space.
Above and Below: Untitled (to Sonja), 1969
Among the works on view will be a notable two-part Barrier in yellow and green dedicated to his wife, Untitled (to Sonja), 1969, which was first shown as Flavin’s contribution to the significant group exhibition Spaces at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1969-70.
Flavin’s installation comprised rectangular units of colored fluorescent tubes that formed two interior barriers that begin in the corners of the entrance wall and extend to the far end of the room, altering space with colored light and physically modifying the visitors’ experience of the room. This will be the first time it has been shown since the MoMA exhibition.
Also in the exhibition is a rare barrier that shines white fluorescent light into an empty room while rendering it inaccessible: Untitled (to Dorothy and Roy Lichtenstein on not seeing anyone in the room), 1968. This piece was first shown at the Dwan Gallery, New York, in 1968 and has not been exhibited since 1970. The work’s title makes reference to a 1961 painting by Roy Lichtenstein entitled I Can See The Whole Room!…And There’s Nobody in It!
A Corridor in Yellow and Pink fluorescent light from 1972-75, Untitled (to Barry, Mike, Chuck and Leonard), will also be presented. The work divides an architectural passageway into two mutually inaccessible, obstructed fields of color and light, playing on the viewers’ cognitive and physical perception of distinctly colored, opposite ends of the same space.
The show will also feature a room devoted to a sequence of four related corner constructions dedicated to the artist Barnett Newman: Untitled (to Barnett Newman) one-four, 1971, which highlight the four corners of the room by serially investigating the same rectangular form in different configurations of yellow, red, and blue fluorescent light. These works have not been on view in the United States since their first presentation in Flavin’s 1971 solo exhibition at the Dwan Gallery, New York.
Another work in the exhibition features the artist’s less-known use of circular light fixtures: Untitled (to a man, George McGovern) 2, from 1972, succinctly illuminates the corners of a given space in its wall-mounted triangular construction of warm white circular lamps.
Dan Flavin, Corners, Barriers and Corridors will be on Exhibit Through October 24th, 2015 at David Zwirner Gallery, Located at 537 West 20th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.