untitled(for Ad Reinhardt)1b
Flavin was born in New York, USA in 1933. He studied at a Catholic seminary from 1947 to 1952, intending to become a priest, but ultimately joined the United States Air Force. During his military service in 1954–55, he studied art under an educational program provided by the University of Maryland to the US military stationed in Korea. After returning to New York, he briefly studied art at the Hans Hoffman School of Fine Arts and the New School for Social Research in 1956 and took drawing and painting classes at Columbia University from 1957 to 1959. While working as a guard at MoMA (New York), Flavin made the acquaintance of contemporary minimalist artists including Sol LeWitt and Robert Ryman. Since 1963, he worked consistently on light sculptures and site-specific installations using fluorescent lights in the commercially available ten colors (blue, green, pink, red, yellow, ultraviolet, and four shades of white) and composed of five forms (circles, and four straight tubes of different lengths). Flavin refused to attribute his work to religious interpretations or specific concepts, instead seeking to direct attention to the very presence of light in space itself. Despite this view, however, many of Flavin’s works are dedicated to individuals whom he admired. As a leading figure in the Minimalism movement in New York in the 1960s, his artworks are found all around the globe. Large installations by the artist have been permanently installed at institutions including the Dan Flavin Art Institute (New York), the Chinati Foundation (Marfa), founded by Donald Judd, and the Hamburger Bahnhof – Nationalgalerie der Gegenwart (Berlin). Flavin passed away in 1996.