Dan Flavin, untitled (in memory of my father, D. Nicholas Flavin), 1974

Special Exhibition of a Work by Dan Flavin

On view from October 8, 2021, through April 30, 2023, in Chinati’s small special exhibition gallery.

Dan Flavin, untitled (in memory of my father, D. Nicholas Flavin), 1974

Modules of 1-foot circular and 2-foot straight fluorescent bulbs process along the floor and up one wall of a small building on Chinati’s grounds. This installation is one of Dan Flavin’s few works that can be adapted in scale to a given situation.

The work’s “daylight” fluorescent light may be experienced in contrast to Flavin’s large-scale installation of pink, green, blue, and yellow light at Chinati. Altogether these colors represent half of the artist’s palette—and all of the once readily available colors of commercial fluorescent bulbs. Soft white, cool white, warm white, red, and occasionally, ultraviolet round out the scheme. Naturally, sunlight and darkness also make their way into Flavin’s art, which is always situational and, depending on the scale and location, often architectural—sculpting space with light and color.

Observing light and its properties is central to experiencing much of the work at Chinati. However, as the one artist whose work actually plugs in, Flavin brings a characteristic ambivalence to this most empirical act of perception. His use of fluorescence introduces a spectrum of associations, from banal office spaces and Broadway, to luminous landscapes and sharp ocean shore light. 

Dan Flavin’s untitled (Marfa project) (1996) recently received significant conservation through the replacement of all 336 lamps, as well a major refurbishment of the 24 windows in the six buildings that house the installation. The reopening to the public, over Chinati Weekend 2021, occasions this special exhibition, courtesy of the Estate of Dan Flavin.

To read more about Dan Flavin’s use of color, see Marianne Stockebrand’s “Pink, Yellow, Blue, Green and Other Colors in the Work of Dan Flavin” in Chinati’s newsletter, volume 2, pp. 2-11. The current newsletter, volume 26, features an artist’s project by Leslie Hewitt that reflects on Flavin’s use of artificial and natural light.

Dan Flavin (born 1933 in Queens, New York; died 1996 in Riverhead, New York)

untitled (in memory of my father, D. Nicholas Flavin), 1974. Daylight fluorescent light. Overall installation at Chinati, approximately: 9 1/2 x 27 ft. (3 x 8 m)