Dan Flavin  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Dan Flavin (April 1, 1933 Jamaica, New YorkNovember 29, 1996 Riverhead, New York) was an American minimalist artist who is famous for creating sculptural objects and installations from commercially available fluorescent light fixtures. Flavin first conceived of using electric light as art in 1961, the same year he married his first wife Sonja Severdija. The first works to incorporate electric light were his "icons" series: eight colored square box-forms, constructed by the artist and his then wife Sonja, with fluorescent lamps and incandescent bulbs attached to their sides and sometimes beveled edges. One of these "icons" was dedicated to Flavin's twin brother David, who died of polio in 1962. "The diagonal of personal ecstasy (the diagonal of May 25, 1963)" 1963, was his first mature work, marking the beginning of Flavin's exclusive use of fluorescent light. Over the decades that followed, he continued to use fluorescent light to explore color, light and sculptural space in works that filled gallery interiors, taking a variety of forms including "corner pieces", "barriers" and "corridors". Most of Flavin's works were untitled with a dedication in parenthesis to friends, artists, critics and other individuals, the most famous of which include his "Monuments to V Tatlin," in homage to Russian constructivist sculptor Vladimir Tatlin, which he continued to produce between 1964 and 1990. Flavin studied art history for a short time at the New School for Social Research, and drawing and painting at Columbia University. Flavin married his second wife, artist Tracy Harris, at the Guggenheim Museum, in 1992.

There is a small museum, the Dan Flavin Art Institute, dedicated to Flavin's work in a converted firehouse in Bridgehampton, New York.

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