Home Magazine Another tribute to minimal art...

In the new space located at the core of Marais Paris district, from November 30, 2019—February 1, 2020, David Zwirner Gallery is presenting one of the most important retrospectives dedicated to American artist Dan Flavin in France, after his solo show in 2006 at the Museum of Modern Art, Paris.

Thanks to a vast range of works created between the Sixties and Eighties, this exhibition tries to put in dialogue themes like magic, astonishment and emotional charge with the typical simplicity expressed by this genre. The effect communicated by all of these works is incredibly amplified by the halls of the gallery which, in terms of amplitude and harmony of proportions, recall the aspect of a museum.

Read more about Minimal Art --> A Comprehensive Guide on Minimalist Art

For the first time in Paris, it is possible to join a large-scale, untitled “barrier” that was first installed by the artist in Donald Judd’s (1928–1994) loft building on Spring Street in New York in 1970. The work cuts across the expanse of the gallery and dramatically bathes the space in blue and red fluorescent light, altering the viewer’s access to and perception of the surrounding architecture. Flavin’s barriers, the first of which was executed in 1966, radically establish and redefine space and are among the artist’s most significant works. As modular and serial structures, the barriers demonstrate Flavin’s centrality to minimal and conceptual art movements of the 1960s and 1970s and count among the earliest examples of what is now commonly referred to as “installation art.”  


Dan Flavin. Installation view at David Zwirner, Parigi 2019. Photo Jack Hems © 2019 Stephen Flavin
Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Courtesy David Zwirner


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Also, there will be key works that explore the subtle chromatic and perceptual possibilities afforded by the commercially available variations of “white” fluorescent light (cool white, daylight, warm white, and soft white). These include “a leaning diagonal” of March 27, 1964 (to David Smith) (1964), a single-unit, cool-white lamp that leans against the wall and which is dedicated to the American abstract expressionist sculptor and painter David Smith (1906–1965), and untitled (to Cy Twombly) 2 (1972), an evocative corner construction of crossing cool-white and daylight lamps dedicated to American artist Cy Twombly (1928–2011). Also featured in the exhibition is an example of the artist’s lesser-known use of circular light fixtures, which are horizontally arranged in untitled(1973) in an alternating sequence of cool and warm white light.

Seen together, the works in the exhibition embody what Flavin described as his goal of producing “a sequence of implicit decisions to combine traditions of painting and sculpture in architecture with acts of electric light defining space.”


Dan Flavin, untitled (for Frederika and Ian) 3, 1987 © 2019 Stephen Flavin
Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Courtesy David Zwirner


Minimalism appeared in the United States in the early sixties and established itself as an artistic current in reaction to Abstract Expressionism and Pop art, by claiming the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's concept of “less is more”. Dan Flavin (New York, 1933-1996) is one of the most important exponents of this movement together with Donald Judd, Agnes Martin, Robert Morris, Anne Truitt, and Frank Stella. For all of these artists, Minimalism corresponded to a maximum simplification in terms of shapes and colours, almost always tending to a geometric simplicity. By responding to these principles, Flavin, in 1963 created the "Diagonal of May 25, 1963", with the use of fluorescent light tubes (still identical as they were on the market) by creating installations, or  " situations ", always different according to the exhibition space. 

Cover image: Installation view Dan Flavin corners barriers and corridors at David Zwirner NY, 2015. 


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