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Dan Flavin (1933 – 1996) came, like Tony Smith, who was the subject of a retrospective at the Kunsthalle Bielefeld in autumn 2012 celebrating his one hundredth birthday, from the tradition of abstract expressionism. However, he is really known for his sculptures made of fluorescent lights, which he began making in 1963. Instead of using color for painting, Flavin employed it as an intangible material for his work. His light installations, made of white and colored neon tubes, can be seen in the most important museums in the world. For the first time in a long while drawings from Flavin’s estate are now available for an extensive exhibition, attesting to his roots in painting. From an early study of a Rembrandt drawing, to abstract expressionist images and writing, to construction drawings for his installations, the drawings also include practically unknown sketches of landscapes, sailboats, and caricature-like portrait sketches. Flavin’s works are supplemented by a variety of drawings by other artists (including Hans Arp, Piet Mondrian, and Donald Judd) from Flavin’s collection. There are also drawings from the Hudson River School, which Flavin acquired for the Dia Art Foundation, raising awareness of the artist’s close ties to a tradition that goes back to the nineteenth century. This is the first monographic exhibition of drawings by Dan Flavin since 1974; it was prepared by the Morgan Library & Museum in New York, where it was on display the last month. This exhibition of rare drawings, sketches, and notes is accompanied by some of Flavin’s light sculptures, which illuminate the architecture of the Kunsthalle building by Philip Johnson. For instance, «untitled (for Philip Johnson)», from 1964, or «for Donald Judd, colorist» (1987) refer to the 1960s avant-garde that conquered the world from New York.
The show will be accompanied by a catalog titled «Dan Flavin: Zeichnen»; the catalogue for the exhibition in New York, Morgan Library & Museum, and the Kunsthalle Bielefeld. Edited by Isabelle Dervaux and Friedrich Meschede: 39.90 €. Funding for the exhibition comes from the Stiftung der Sparkasse Bielefeld.
The installation of the light sculptures is made possible by the Staff Stiftung Lemgo.