Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dan Flavin

 Trying to define light, without looking up the scientific explanation, is one of those mind-boggling tasks where the only sensible definition is the word itself, which goes against all rules of defining in the first place. Light is everything we can see, and all things are visible through light.
"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead; I lift my eyes and all is born again." -Sylvia Plath

Dan Flavin was an artist whose work was rooted in standard fluorescent tube lighting. His art can be categorized with other "post WWII" American artists in different ways. The fact that the tube light unit stands as art on its own makes it similar to Duchamp's "readymades" or "found art". However, the emphasis on color and the very basic ideas reflect influences and inspirations from minimalist artists such as Barnett Newman. Flavin openly addresses, or references, other artists such as Newman and Matisse in the titles of his works. His art surpassed the concepts of these predecessors because of the medium he was using, the light leaves the container/tube and the illuminated space around it becomes part of the piece. His art lies somewhere on its own. I think this quote from The National Gallery of Art sums it up perfectly: " Like sculpture, the lights are three-dimensional objects, yet, like painting, they are often mounted flat against the gallery wall and involve the juxtaposition and mixing of colors".

(Untitled: To Henri Matisse) This work is a combination of pink, yellow, green and blue florescent lights that result in an "ambient", dull white light.

 His art pushed the very idea of "art" to the limit. In the work below, he constructed a florescent light rectangle acting as a frame around empty wall space, poking fun at the conventional ideas of art.

Later in his career he took on a larger scale.

This "green barrier" he created directs the viewer/ visitor around the space and in turn makes them more aware of the architecture. I think that is a very powerful concept; light plays such an important role in architecture and interior spaces in basic ways like actually making the space visible and very accentual ways as well by intensifying or emphasizing certain elements.

“One might not think of light as a matter of fact, but I do. And it is, as I said, as plain and open and direct an art as you will ever find.”
                                                                           —Dan Flavin, 1987


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Light Phenomenon

I photographed light reflecting off of water over the weekend as a jumping off point for this project.