I like art as thought better than art as work. I’ve always maintained this. It’s important to me that I don’t get my hands dirty. It’s not because I’m instinctively lazy. It’s a declaration: art is thought. –Dan Flavin
The American post-war artist Dan Flavin (1933 – 1996) was a pioneer of light art and minimalism, famous for his iconic light installations. By arranging fluorescent light bulbs into differing geometric compositions, Flavin’s art sought to investigate the atmospheric and color effect of electric light in relation to space. His dedication to simple forms and use of industrial materials allied his practice to the work of fellow Minimalists Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt. After 1963, Dan Flavin’s work was composed almost entirely of light in the form of commercially available fluorescent tubes in ten colors (red, green, blue, yellow, pink, ultraviolet, and four whites) and five shapes (one circular and four straight fixtures of different lengths). This limitation of materials allowed him to extract banal hardware from its utilitarian context before inserting it into the world of high art. Major retrospectives of Dan Flavin’s work have been organized by the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa (1969), St. Louis Art Museum (1973), Kunsthalle Basel (1975), and Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (1989). Both the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin in 1999 and the Dia Foundation for the Arts in 2004 presented major posthumous retrospectives of the artist’s work.