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'dan flavin: dedications in lights' exhibition floods kunstmuseum basel with fluorescent hues

kunstmuseum basel presents ‘Dan Flavin: Dedications in Lights’

 

Back in 1963, Dan Flavin mounted a single, industrial fluorescent light tube at a 45-degree angle to the wall of his studio declaring it art, marking it a radical move to this day. To honor his movement on Minimal Art, Kunstmuseum Basel proudly presents installation ‘Dan Flavin: Dedications in Lights,’ delving into the American artist’s works dedicated to fellow artists and significant events. 

 

Kunstmuseum Basel invites audiences to immerse themselves in the luminous world of Dan Flavin until August 18, 2024 – see more here

'dan flavin: dedications in lights' exhibition floods kunstmuseum basel with fluorescent hues
‘Untitled. In memory of Urs Graf’ (1975). Flavin made this work for the inner courtyard of Kunstmuseum Basel for a joint exhibition there and at Kunsthalle Basel in 1975 and is dedicated to Swiss Renaissance artist Urs Graf (1485–1528)

all images courtesy of Kunstmuseum Basel 

 

 

The American artist (1933–1996) has revolutionized the art world with his exploration of Minimal Art, immortalizing industrially manufactured fluorescent tubes as his medium of choice. Rising to fame in the 1960s, Flavin’s ingenuity secured his enduring legacy in art history, with his industrially manufactured fluorescent tubes. With colors and dimensions which were prescribed by industrial production, Dan Flavin’s tubes flood viewers with light, making them part of the works. The exhibition at Kunstmuseum Basel places emphasis on looking at Flavin’s oeuvre in a less familiar setting. His pieces, although initially without clearly recognizable signature, frequently make reference in their titles to concrete events, such as wartime atrocities or police violence, or are dedicated to other artists – as in the work ‘Untitled (in memory of Urs Graf)’ which every evening fills the inner courtyard of the Hauptbau in colorful light. The curators of this major special exhibitionat the Kunstmuseum Basel (see here) examine these narrative strategies by means of works and series drawn from the artist’s works and invite visitors to take a sensory exploration of his unique approach. 

'dan flavin: dedications in lights' exhibition floods kunstmuseum basel with fluorescent hues
Dan Flavin, untitled (in memory of Urs Graf), 1975, Kunstmuseum Basel, Gift by Dia Art Foundation, New York © Stephen Flavin / 2024, ProLitteris, Zurich

 

 

Additionally, the dedication to his beloved dog, Airily, in ‘Untitled (to my dear bitch, Airily) 2’ (1984), adds a personal touch to his work. Flavin traveled to many dog shows with his golden retriever in the United States, ending up devoting this major installation to her as a sign of his affection.

'dan flavin: dedications in lights' exhibition floods kunstmuseum basel with fluorescent hues
Dan Flavin, untitled (to my dear bitch, Airily) 2, 1984, The Dan Flavin Estate, courtesy of David Zwirner © Stephen Flavin / 2024, ProLitteris, Zurich

 

 

Flavin’s reverence for fellow artists is further evidenced in works like ‘Untitled (to Barnett Newman)’ (1971), honoring Abstract Expressionist painter Barnett Newman (1905–1970). Shortly after Newman’s death, Flavin saw his work series ‘Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow, and Blue’ in his studio and through vibrant compositions of light, decided to pay homage to Newman’s pioneering exploration of the primary colors, showcasing the profound impact this had on his fluorescent lamps.

'dan flavin: dedications in lights' exhibition floods kunstmuseum basel with fluorescent hues
Dan Flavin, untitled (to Barnett Newman), 1971, Collection Carré d’Art-Musée d’art contemporain de Nîmes © Stephen Flavin / 2024, ProLitteris, Zurich

 

 

Moreover, Flavin’s political engagement shines through in ‘Untitled (to a man, George McGovern) 1 and 2’ (1972), dedicated to Democrat presidential candidate George McGovern, who at the time was running against the Republican Richard Nixon. Serving as a testament to Flavin’s social consciousness, the work was first shown at Leo Castelli Gallery in New York, embrace the intersection of art and activism with cool and warm white circular fluorescent lights. The exhibition opened only three days before the presidential election, in which McGovern lost.

'dan flavin: dedications in lights' exhibition floods kunstmuseum basel with fluorescent hues
Dan Flavin, untitled (to a man, George McGovern) 1 and 2, 1972, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi © Stephen Flavin / 2024, ProLitteris, Zurich

 

 

Lastly, ‘Untitled (to you, Heiner, with admiration and affection)’ (1974) stands as a testament to Flavin’s enduring partnership with German art dealer Heiner Friedrich (b. 1938). Through this heartfelt dedication, Flavin immortalizes the profound influence of friendship and collaboration on his artistic journey with three installations. Friedrich was, and still remains, an important supporter of Flavin’s work.

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Dan Flavin, untitled (to you, Heiner, with admiration and affection), 1974, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen – Sammlung Moderne Kunst in der Pinakothek der Moderne München © Stephen Flavin / 2024, ProLitteris, Zurich

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