Dan Flavin

American (New York City, New York, 1933 - 1996, Riverhead, New York)

After a brief stint at seminary and meteorological training in the military, Dan Flavin pursued his artistic studies in the late 1950s at Columbia University and the New School. By 1961, he had abandoned his early assemblages of found objects and begun his signature work: sculptural installations made from fluorescent light bulbs.

Like the work of his fellow Minimalists, Flavin's art is clean, industrially produced, and serially repeating. These qualities were developed in opposition to the gestural expressionist painting dominant in postwar American art. The use of ordinary light bulbs also references the twin modernist obsessions with pure technology and everyday life.

By basing his work as much in radiated light as in the bulbs themselves, Flavin set the stage for much of the experience-oriented installation work that continues today.

From June 3, 2013, through early 2016, SFMOMA's building on Third Street in San Francisco will be temporarily closed for expansion construction. Selected artworks in our collection are included in a range of off-site exhibitions during this period. We regret that the remainder of the collection will not be available for study during this time.

In the meantime, we invite you to explore a wide selection of our collection online. Please note that the information presented online is subject to revision. Please contact us at collections@sfmoma.org to verify artwork details.

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