art, lighting, sculpture

Dan Flavin’s Impermanent Medium of Eternal Light

Are you familiar with the feeling, when you stumble on something, and could not let it off your mind? Several weeks ago a book on a collection of Italian patron of arts, Giuseppe Panza, has opened midway in front of us. Odd in the sea of flea market at Zaabeel Park in Dubai, old yet still glossy pages of the book offered a deep glow of a green fluorescent tube.

That was my first encounter with Dan Flavin, American artist that worked extensively with light and chose T12 fluorescent tube as his stroke. Flavin, 1933 – 1996, is said to have his roots in dadaism, labeled minimalist by critics, claimed himself a maximalist. We will try to bring out a hypothesis, why he did so.

Dan Flavin

Dan Flavin

American economy was thundering in the 50-s and 60-s and fluorescent tube became a symbol of a new era, a must of any dollar churning premises: a bank, a Bellagio resort in Vegas, a Kroger supermarket. I repeat, this is our theory, but a T12 tube may had a certain meaning for Dan Flavin, although he would dismiss any interpretation in his works.

Flavin to Tatlin

Flavin to Tatlin

Flavin bid an honour to a Russian architect and sculptor, Vladimir Tatlin. Direct, bright, sorry for the pun, full of light sculptures — tributes to Tatlin — are just a perfect way to show a revolutionary constructivism. Flavin’s sculptures surely have been noisy too. Ballasts that operated the lamps did make a lot of buzz, like a Soviet Ministry!

The last work of Dan Flavin in Berlin

The last work of Dan Flavin in Berlin

Brutal light of Dan Flavin poured over the US border, and the artist was commissioned by many a client in Europe. His last work was a Hamburger Banhof, a railway station turned museum, in Berlin. Flavin is said to have requested to never turn off his installation off. A real challenge to a fluorescent tube, isn’t it?

Photos from various open resources in the internet. We only use them to show our readers the beauty of the light.


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