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Dan Flavin

1933-1996

American artist Dan Flavin was one of the main instigators of the minimalist style in the mid part of the 20th century. Originally a sketcher and painter, Flavin found that light installations were his muse and he worked more and more in that medium as his career grew. In common with many of his peers, he used mundane, readily available components in his creations, which led to some labelling his work as tedious and ugly. He used tubes of fluorescent light and standard fixings to create his pieces, which by their very nature, had a fixed time limit before they expired. This fleeting, temporal aspect of Flavin’s work emphasised the uniqueness of each piece, as they burned bright for a short while before expiring and no longer existing as art. Many of these installations were plain: there was no attempt at a narrative or creation of meaning. All Flavin was interested in was how the light affected the surrounding environment. Flavin stated that he wasn’t trying to convey any particular message, though artistic commentators of the time read many different meanings into Flavin’s work. A lighting innovation Flavin discovered in 1963 enabled him to create a feeling of constant fluidity in his work, giving it a more vibrant feel.

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