No matter what you think of the work of the American Minimalist Dan Flavin, a pristine exhibition of early efforts titled in daylight or cool white, is worth seeing. His signature fluorescent-tube sculptures are rarely as impeccably selected or installed as they are here. The gallery’s spaces seem made for them, meaning that the show illustrates both Minimal art’s utter dependency on but also its glorification of the "white cube," Brian O’Doherty’s well-known term for the unblemished exhibition space that became an increasingly essential framing device for so much art after 1960. Zwirner, which represents the estate of the artist, who was born in 1933 and died in 1996, fully complies with Flavin’s demanding installation protocols: The outlets and cords for these plug-in pieces must be completely invisible.
The total unity of the space, the sculptures and the light they emit (there is no other lighting in the show) is, as intended, a bit awe-inspiring. The exhibition is also indirectly dispiriting, since probably no American museum can give Flavin’s work the space and care, as here, to make it so convincing to the neophyte.
Read the full review in The New York Times
in daylight or cool white was on view at 537 West 20th Street in New York, through April 14, 2018.
Image: installation view, in daylight or cool white, David Zwirner, New York, 2018