Dan Flavin and Donald Judd Press Release
February 15—March 21, 2013
Coinciding with the gallery's 20-year anniversary, David Zwirner is pleased to inaugurate a new five-storied exhibition and project space at 537 West 20th Street with a presentation of works by Dan Flavin and Donald Judd.
Under the directorship of Kristine Bell and Christopher D'Amelio, the space will compliment the primary market programming of the gallery's three existing West 19th Street locations a block away with presentations of large-scale installations and historical, thematic surveys dedicated to the work of modern and contemporary masters.
Designed by Selldorf Architects with the environmental design consultants and engineers Atelier Ten, the building incorporates ca. 30,000 square feet over five stories. Its outdoor spaces are designed by Piet Oudolf, the landscape architect responsible for the nearby High Line. Built according to the highest environmental standards, it will be the first commercial art gallery to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. The inaugural exhibition of significant large-scale works by Flavin and Judd will showcase the versatility of the building's innovative architecture, while initiating the gallery's ambitious program.
Among the forthcoming exhibitions planned for the space is an overview of Richard Serra's early work scheduled for April - June 2013 and, in the second floor galleries, an intimate presentation of Blinky Palermo's late works on paper will be on view (also April - June 2013). A historical overview of John McCracken's work will be presented in September - October 2013. Exhibitions of works by gallery artists Doug Wheeler, Fred Sandback, and Al Taylor are also being planned.
About the exhibition:
As two of the most significant American artists of the post-war period, Dan Flavin and Donald Judd's practices have come to define what has been referred to as Minimalist art. The exhibition will present two significant installations by each artist demonstrating their visually complex understanding of space and material through the use of light and form, from Flavin's straightforward yet dramatic use of fluorescent lamps to Judd's highly polished aluminum constructions. The installations in this exhibition are in dialogue with each other and share a distinctive and coherent understanding of the object, the space, and the viewer.
From the early 1960s until his death in 1996, Flavin produced a singularly consistent and prodigious body of work that utilized commercially available fluorescent lamps to create installations of light and color that employed systematic compositions. This exhibition will include a series of nine works by the artist collectively referred to as "the European Couples" made between 1966-1971, all of which have the same near-square cornered configuration. Each work is composed of an 8-foot square that is one of the nine colors (excluding ultraviolet, which was not available in 8-foot lengths) of fluorescent lamps that Flavin used in his system of lights: yellow, pink, red, blue, green, warm white, cool white, daylight, and soft white. While they each stand alone as individual works, these constructions demonstrate Flavin's interest in serial and permutational configurations. Presented together the series produces an immersive, site-situational environment of light and color, which gives a unique perspective to the architectural components of the new gallery space. The nine works are dedicated to European friends and colleagues who were influences in the artist's life.
Judd began his practice as a painter in the late 1940s, although he soon introduced three-dimensional elements into the surface of his work. His first sculptural objects took the form of shallow reliefs, and by 1963 he had begun to create freestanding works that were presented directly on the floor and the wall. Throughout his practice, Judd used materials such as plywood, steel, concrete, Plexiglas, and aluminum and employed commercial fabricators in order to get the surfaces and angles he desired. He created declaratively simple, fundamental sculptural forms, many of which took the shape of simple "boxes" or "stacks," which he would often arrange according to repeated or sequential progressions.
With the intention of creating work that could assume a direct material and physical presence without recourse to grand philosophical statements, Judd eschewed the classical ideals of representational sculpture to create a rigorous visual vocabulary that sought clear and definite objects as its primary mode of articulation.
The exhibition will include an untitled five-unit sculpture from 1991 that demonstrates Judd's visionary approach to using industrial material as well as his considered attitude toward form, proportion, and installation. This work is unique within Judd's overall practice in that it is the only incident in which the artist combined circular columns within the square format of the aluminum box. Each identically scaled freestanding box is arranged in a single row spanning across the gallery floor. Large in scale, this work relates to Judd’s interest in what curator Barbara Haskell has called his "architecturally sensitive formulation of space."¹ The interior space of each box, which is open on each side, consists of vertical cylindrical forms in different spatial configurations, yielding a dialectical tension that reflects light in different ways. Each unit is positioned exactly 30 cm (1/5 of the width of each unit) from the other allowing the surrounding natural light in the space to bring out the subtle qualities of the material and form. Moreover, it invites an ambulatory viewer, as it cannot be comprehended in its entirety from a singular point-of-view.
This exhibition will provide a rare opportunity to experience two large-scale presentations by Flavin and Judd that demonstrate both artists' unique ability to unify form and material while incorporating–through their deliberate installation and use of light and color–the surrounding architecture into the perception of the works themselves.
¹ Barbara Haskell, Donald Judd. Exh. cat. (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1988), p. 96.