1933, New York City, New York
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.