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43 Dan Flavin "monument" for V. Tatlin 1964-65 cool white fluorescent light 96 x 31 1/4 in. (243.8 x 79.4 cm) This work is number 2 from an edition of 5 and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist. Another work from the edition is in the permanent collection of the Dia: Beacon, Beacon, New York.
Provenance Leo Castelli Gallery, New York Private Collection, New York, acquired directly from the above, March, 1989 Christie's, New York, Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening, November 10, 2004, lot 9 Private Collection, Chicago, acquired directly from the above sale Stellan Holm Gallery, New York Exhibited New York, Rubin Spangle Gallery, Dan Flavin: Important Historical Works, 1963-1990, May - June, 1992 (another example exhibited) New York, PaceWildenstein, White Works, July - September, 1994 (another example exhibited) New York, Danese, Dan Flavin: 'monuments' for V. Tatlin, January - February, 1997 (another example exhibited) Literature "Monuments" for V. Tatlin from Dan Flavin, 1964-1982, exh. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 1984, no. 3, cover (illustrated) Dan Flavin: 'monuments' for V. Tatlin, 1964-182, exh. cat., Danese, New York, 1997, p. 17 (illustrated) M. Govan and T. Bell, eds., Dan Flavin: The Complete Lights, 1961-1996, New York: Dia Art Foundation in association with Yale University Press, 2004, no. 61, p. 238 (illustrated) Catalogue Essay "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 Radiant is perhaps the best word that can define the work of Dan Flavin, one of the first contemporary artists to employ the immaterial to as great an extent as the worldly. For over three decades, Flavin produced his signature work in neon, glass, and light, and, as a consequence, redefined space as we know it. His many works almost always went untitled, save for a parenthetical description of each dedicatee. In one of his earliest and purest experiments in light and wonder, Flavin produced Untitled (“monument” for V. Tatlin), 1964-65. In one of Flavin’s great strokes of artistic generosity, he crafts his piece in honor of a bygone artist, and, in the process, forges a work that “monumental” only begins to describe. Flavin absorbed the Abstract Expressionist boom of the 1950s, consolidating his ideas for a new type of intense sculpture. Finally, in 1963, he unveiled to the world Diagonal of Personal Ecstasy (the Diagonal of May 25, 1963). The piece was remarkable not only for its revolutionary use of neon light and its resultant lack of boundaries, but also for Flavin’s dedication, which took sculptor Constantin Brâncuși as its subject. A year later, while Flavin’s sculpture was gaining a wider audience, Flavin himself was still immersed in art history as a diligent student. In particular, he forged a spiritual kinship with Vladimir Tatlin, an avant-garde Russian sculptor who passed away ten years earlier. Yet Tatlin’s work was indispensable to Flavin, especially in regard to the work in which he was presently engaged: Tatlin had sought to dismantle the concept of the frame, finding it an impediment to the structural and formative process of sculpting. Flavin would begin a long affair with the memory of Tatlin, dedicating many of his works to the sculptor over the next twenty years: “My concern for the thought of Russian artist-designer, Vladimir Tatlin (1885-1953), was prompted by the man’s frustrated, insistent attitude to attempt to combine artistry and engineering. The pseudo-monuments, structural, designs for clear but temporary cool white fluorescent lights, were to honor the artist ironically.”(“Some artist’s remark…’” in Monuments for V. Tatlin from Dan Flavin, 1964-1982, exh.cat.) Flavin’s irony in Untitled (“monument” for V. Tatlin), 1964-65 lies in the fact that he has bridged the exact chasm that Tatlin sought to bridge, for it betrays a perfect marriage of artistry and engineering. A towering structure of luminescence, Flavin’s sculpture is the picture of symmetry, the center points rising eight feet vertically. Constructed of seven tubes of glass set flush against the wall, Flavin in his piece is perhaps the first artist in Western history to employ the elusive fourth state of matter
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