Dan Flavin: in daylight or cool white
David Zwirner is pleased to present Dan Flavin: in daylight or cool whiteat its 537 West 20th Street gallery. The exhibition will examine Dan Flavin’s use of different variations of fluorescent white light, focusing on significant works from the 1960s. The title refers to Flavin’s seminal text "‘… in daylight or cool white.’ an autobiographical sketch," first published in the December 1965 issue of Artforum.
Beginning in 1963, when he conceived the diagonal of May 25, 1963 (to Constantin Brancusi), a single gold, fluorescent lamp installed diagonally on a wall, until his death in 1996, Flavin produced a singularly consistent and prodigious body of work that utilized fluorescent light to create installations (or "situations," as he preferred to call them) of light and color.
About this work, Dan Flavin noted: "In time, I came to these conclusions about what I had found with fluorescent light, and about what might be accomplished plastically: now the entire interior spatial container and its components—wall, floor and ceiling—could support a strip of light but would not restrict its act of light except to enfold it. Regard the light and you are fascinated—practically inhibited from grasping its limits at each end. While the tube itself has an actual length of eight feet, its shadow, cast from the supporting pan, has but illusively dissolving ends. This waning cannot really be measured without resisting consummate visual effects." —From a transcript of a lecture the artist presented at the Brooklyn Museum Art School, December 1964
"Exhibited in March 1964 at the Green Gallery in New York, the nominal three (to William of Ockham) is at the crux of Flavin’s emerging practice. The vertically oriented single fixture in white, known as one, must have been considered a reduction to the simplest of formulations. Yet Flavin’s final resolution involved three sets of lights, a series rather than a consolidated whole, which realized the possibilities inherent in the first diagonal—that it could be extended endlessly. In a declarative voice, Flavin recorded in his notes: ‘With the nominal three I will exult primary figures and their dimensions. Here will be the basic counting marks (primitive abstractions) restated long in the daylight glow of common fluorescent tubes. Such an elemental system becomes possible (ironic) from the context of my previous work.’ . . . the nominal three was not a fixed composition, but rather a concept—whose premise had enormous implications for a form of art that could be drawn out from an idea." —Michael Govan, “Irony and Light,” published in the catalogue for Dan Flavin: A Retrospective, 2004