DAN FLAVIN (1933-1996)
Known for his signature use of commercial fluorescent light fixtures, Dan Flavin in the early 1960s created eight wall-mounted pieces which he called Icons: monochrome wooden crates, onto which he mounted colored light bulbs or light fixtures. They bring to mind the interface between the religious mysticism of light, the illuminated billboards on Broadway and the neon shrines of popular art.
Leaving the classical genres of painting and sculpture behind him, from the early 1960s he focused entirely on exploring and realizing the artistic potential of light.
Using commercial fluorescent light fixtures, he created installations that offered new dimensions on our perception of space. This book is dedicated to his earliest experiments with artificial light: eight wall-mounted pieces created between 1961 and 1964, which he called ‘Icons’.
The Icons are wooden boxes in single colours, onto which Flavin mounted coloured lamp bulbs or fluorescent light fixtures. The idea behind them is as astonishing as the title, which inevitably brings to mind religious art – an association that seems quite out of place when considering Flavin’s approach: ‘My works are not consumed in the desire for a god.’
Corinna Thierolf and Johannes Vogt, explore the interface that the Icons so vigorously forge between the religious mysticism of light, the flickering of the brightly illuminated billboards on Broadway and the neon shrines of popular art.
Corinna Thierolf writes widely on contemporary art, and is the author of Hanne Darboven / John Cage. She and Johannes Vogtis are curators at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich.