Dan Flavin

Biography of Dan Flavin

Dan Flavin (born 1933 in New York; died 1996) was an American artist whose work is composed of light—more specifically, fluorescent commercially available bulbs and industrial light fixtures. One of the pioneers of minimalism in the early 60s, Flavin’s placement of light varies in relationship to the existing architecture, illuminating architectural spaces while subtly altering the viewer’s perception of them. While the shadows and electric colors that emanate from the pieces blur the contours of the surrounding space, these works—whether installed directly on the floor or the wall—retain a discrete relationship toward their environment much like a painting or sculpture.


Although most recognized for Dan Flavin’s work in sculpture and installation, he was a scholar and collector of paper works and had an ongoing interest in the art of printmaking and editions. Among his collection were works on paper by Hokusai, Sol LeWitt, Piet Mondrian, George Grosz and Hudson River School artists like Jasper Francis Cropsey and John Frederick.


Dan Flavin’s sculpture was usually conceived of serially but would remain a diagram or drawing until a sale had been made. At this point the completed work be delivered to the buyer with a diagram of the artwork and a certificate with the artist’s signature and stamp. This process by which the artist created on demand has left an enormous volume of unrealized work by the time of Flavin’s death—nearly 1,000 works existing solely as drawings and notes.

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