Dan Flavin - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Wednesday, November 16, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Nächst St. Stephan, Vienna
    Galerie Laage-Salomon, Paris (acquired in 1989)
    Private Collection, Switzerland (acquired from the above in 1995)
    Christie's, London, June 27, 2012, lot 70
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Baden-Baden, Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Neue Anwendungen fluoreszierenden Lichts mit Diagrammen, Zeichnungen und Drucken von Dan Flavin, 1989, no. 11, pp. 85-87 (illustrated)
    Berlin, Galerie Bastian, DAN FLAVIN, September 5, 2015 - January 31, 2016

  • Literature

    Renate Puvogel, "Dan Flavin und Donald Judd in der Kunsthalle Baden-Baden," Parkett, no. 22, 1989, p. 19 (illustrated)
    Rolf Gunter Dienst, "Dan Flavin: Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden," Das Kunstwerk, no. 2, June 1989, p. 95
    Christian W. Thomsen, "Part 8: Light-Architecture-Media," A + U, no. 310, July 1996, p. 120 (illustrated)
    David Batchelor, Minimalism, Cambridge University Press: London, 1997, p. 52 (illustrated)
    Michael Govan, Tiffany Bell, Dan Flavin: The Complete Lights 1961-1996, New York, 2004, no. 512, p. 368 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    The light is an industrial object, and familiar…it is a means to new art.” -- Donald Judd, 1964

    The present lot, untitled (for Leo Castelli at His Gallery’s 30th Anniversary) 3 continues Dan Flavin’s tradition of creating works dedicated to his friends, colleagues and famous influential figures such as Henri Matisse, Donald Judd and Frank Stella. The present lot pays homage to the great New York gallerist, Leo Castelli.

    This series, conceived in 1987, was executed in 1989 and is the third model of Flavin’s tribute to Castelli. Earlier versions can be found in the National Gallery of Canada and on permanent loan to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York. The two latter works are comprised of the same cross-section design, but they are comprised of 5 vertical lights and 5 horizontal lights, whereas the present lot is 6 by 6, making it a desirable example.

    While employed as a security guard at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, Flavin observed the power of strategically placed electric lighting used to guide viewers through a darkened room. He began to contemplate the idea of electrical lighting as his defining artistic medium and chose common industrial florescent tubing knowing “that the actual space of a room could be broken down and played with by planting illusions of real light (electric light) at crucial junctures in the room's composition." Flavin’s fluorescent light pieces appeared publicly in 1964 and sought to make a break with the gestural and impassioned world of abstract expressionism and embark on a new artistic exploration into minimalism.

    After the Green Gallery closed in 1965, both of New York’s founding Minimalist artists, Donald Judd and Flavin, joined Leo Castelli Gallery, a pre-eminent dealer in American avant-garde art. An advocate of Minimalism and Conceptualism, Castelli promoted the work of such pioneering artists as Joseph Kosuth, Donald Judd, Richard Serra and Flavin.

    In choosing artists, Castelli had a natural gift, explaining, “You have to have a good eye, but also a good ear. There's no other way if you want to make a good choice. You hear things, feel vibrations, gauge reactions. You spot movements emerging, and you try to pick the best practitioners.'' And Castelli did, particularly in Dan Flavin, who admired Castelli for his unwavering artistic support. Attributing Castelli and other influencers to his work, Flavin pays them eternal homage with “a lamp that burns to death like any other of its kind. In time the whole electrical system will pass into inactive history. My lamps will no longer be operative; but it must be remembered that they once gave light.”

  • Artist Biography

    Dan Flavin

    American • 1933 - 1996

    Dan Flavin employed commercially-sold fluorescent light tubes in order to produce what he liked to call "situations" or installations. His minimalist approach transcended simplicity through his use of neon colors and thoughtful compositions. With straight-edged light beams, Flavin would often create dynamic arrangements reminiscent of Fred Sandback's work with yarn.

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untitled (for Leo Castelli at his gallery’s 30th anniversary) 3

red, pink, yellow, blue and green fluorescent light
47 1/4 x 47 1/4 in. (120.1 x 120.1 cm.)
Executed in 1989, this work is from an edition of 5 of which only 1 was fabricated and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $322,000

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1267

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 16 November 5 PM EST