Dan Flavin (American, 1933–1996) was a pioneer of Minimalism, best known for his illuminated installations of commercial light fixtures. Born in New York City, Flavin received his high school education at a seminary in Brooklyn, NY, as his father wished him to become a priest. He went on to study art history at the New School for Social Research and at Columbia University, while independently working on his own sculptural paintings. In 1961, Flavin began to incorporate electric lighting into his sculptures, and by 1963, he worked exclusively with commercially available fluorescent tubes. Selecting colored lights directly off store shelves, Flavin established a number of standard forms for his work, such as standing lights in corners or hanging them off the wall, which he dubbed Corner Pieces, Barriers, and Corridors. The artist embraced the temporary nature of his artworks, which often shattered or blew out, and was happy to replace parts of his artworks as needed. Though not his stated intention, Flavin laid the grounds for Minimalism with his concern for simple forms, use of industrial materials, and symbolic meaning, along with artists such as Donald Judd (American, 1928–1994) and Sol LeWitt (American, 1928–2007). Flavin died in 1996 in Riverhead, NY, at the age of 63. A prominent collection of his work is preserved at the Dia Art Foundation in upstate New York.

Timeline

1933
Born: New York City
1953
United States Air Force Meteorological Technician Training School, Chanute Air Force Base, Rantoul, Illinois
1954–1955
University of Maryland Extension Program in Osan-ni, Korea
1956
New School for Social Research, New York
1957–1959
Columbia University, New York

Exhibitions

2012
Dan Flavin: Drawing, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, NY (solo)
2012
Dan Flavin: An installation, Galerie Perrotin, Paris, France (solo)
2010
Dan Flavin, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
2009
Castelli, Flavin, Judd, Uecker, Haunch of Venison, London
2009
Electricity, Leo Castelli, New York
2008
Dan Flavin (to Don Judd, colorist) 1-7, Gemini G.E.L. at Joni Moisant Weyl, New York
2007
Bjorn Ressle Fine Art, New York (solo)
2006
Gallery Nikki Diana Marquardt, Paris (solo)
2006
Gallery Nikki Diana Marquardt, Paris
2006
Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, France
2004
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
2004
"Design‚Art: Functional Objects from Donald Judd to Rachel Whiteread," Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York, NY
2004
A Minimal Future? Art as Object, 1958-1968, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
2004
Design Museum, New York, NY
2003
Dia: Beacon, New York
2003
Collection, Nouvelle Presentation, Musee Art Contemporain Lyon, France
2003
3x3: Flavin, Andre, Judd, Organized by the national Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
2003
Flavin, Judd, Lewitt, Serra - Early Works, Zwirner & Wirth
2003
"Flavin, Andre, Judd", National Gallery of Canada, Halifax
2003
"Collection, Nouvelle Presentation", Musee Art Contemporain Lyon, France
2003
"Flavin, Judd, Lewitt, Serra - Early Works", Zwierner & Wirth
2003
Paula Cooper Gallery, New York
2001
Serpentine Gallery, London (solo)
2000
Galerie Trabant, Vienna, Austria
2000
Zwirner & Wirth, New York, New York
1999
Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, New York
1999
Annemarie Verna Galerie, Zürich, Switzerland
1999
Dan Flavin: icons, 1961-1963, Dan Flavin Art Institute, Bridgehampton, New York (solo)
1999
Dan Flavin: The Architecture of Light, Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin (solo)
1997
Dan Flavin: Fluorescent Light, 1963-96, Sabine Knust/Maximilian Verlag, Munich (solo)
1997
Centro Cultural Light, Rio de Janeiro (solo)
1997
Fundacion Proa, Buenos Aires (solo)
1996
PaceWildenstein, New York, NY (solo)
1990
Dan Flavin: (for the master potters, Lucie Rie and Hans Coper) themes and variations 1990, Galeries Grasslin-Ehrhardt, Frankfurt am Main (solo)
1989
Gallery Nikki Diana Marquardt, Paris
1987
Gallery Nikki Diana Marquardt, Paris
1983
The First Show: Painting and Sculpture from Eight Collections, 1940-1980, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles