Dan Flavin – Drawing

Today, the Morgan Library & Museum opens the much anticipated retrospective exhibiting the drawings of Dan Flavin. We attended the preview yesterday and were shown around the second floor by Acquavella Curator of Modern and Contemporary Drawings, Isabelle Dervaux.

Dan Flavin - a carefully rendered and detailed sketch toward a lithograph of the proposed fountain in memory of Pablo Picasso - 1974
Dan Flavin, a carefully rendered and detailed sketch toward a lithograph of the proposed fountain in memory of Pablo Picasso, black ballpoint pen on white looseleaf notebook paper, 1974.

The retrospective is the first of its kind highlighting the drawings of Dan Flavin. The exhibit is arranged into clear distinctions. In addition to two fluorescent pieces, highlights include early works, drawings for icons and related constructions, drawings for fluorescent light installations, landscapes, sails, and portrait drawings. The excellent wall labels, many of which contain quotes from the artist, really give the visitor a powerful sense of the man and his motives.

Dan Flavin - Don Judd, an American artist; Claes Oldenburg, an American artist [2 drawings] - 1974 (?)
Dan Flavin, Don Judd, an American artist; Claes Oldenburg, an American artist [2 drawings], India ink on paper, 1974.

A common misconception about Flavin was immediately righted. He was mainly uninterested in crafting technical drawings contrary to assumptions derived from the Minimalist nature of his fluorescent sculptures. His spirit burned passionately and he sought quick gesture and energetic line in the drawings that were a staple of his daily practice.

Dan Flavin - for the Whitney Annual (some color options) - 1970
Dan Flavin, for the Whitney Annual — some color options (detail), ballpoint pen on paper, 1970.

Flavin enjoyed a mild obsession with Calligrammes and their creator, French poet, Guillaume Apollinaire. He would often use these word structures to visually represent his arrangement of colored light.

Dan Flavin - in honor of Harold Joachim in pink, yellow, blue and green fluorescent light 8' high and wide - 1977 (?)
Dan Flavin, in honor of Harold Joachim in pink, yellow, blue and green fluorescent light 8′ high and wide, colored pencil and ink on graph paper, 1977 (?)

Most of the drawings on display are on small pieces of notebook paper. These records often served as points of reference toward the realization of the light sculptures. A stretch of wall in the space has been adorned with precise drawings, mostly on graph paper created by various artist assistants and family members. The signed conceptual drawings were overseen by Flavin and often passed on with the fluorescent sculptures as diagrams for their installation.

Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) - Sparrows in Flight
Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), Sparrows in Flight.

Including nearly fifty drawings from Dan Flavin’s personal collection was a great touch. He had a fantastic and diverse eye that shines through in his acquisitions from the economic gestural drawings of Japanese ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world) to the nineteenth-century American landscapes by Hudson River School artists. Several assets from his minimalist contemporaries round out this exhibit within the exhibit.

John Frederick Kensett - Catskill Mt. - 1849
John Frederick Kensett, Catskill Mt., graphite pencil on cream wove paper covered with a transparent white wash, 1849.

It was our first trip to the Morgan Library & Museum and we had a blast. Get there for this exhibit and also enjoy the personal collection of Pierpont Morgan as well as “Rembrandt’s World: Dutch Drawings from the Clement C. Moore Collection.” “Dan Flavin: Drawing” lands next at Kunsthalle Bielefeld in Germany, toward the end of 2012.

Dan Flavin
Drawing
17 February – 1 July 2012
The Morgan Library & Museum
NYC

Images courtesy of The Morgan Library & Museum.



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About Scott Lickstein, Look Into My Owl

Scott Lickstein is a visual artist and was the founder / primary writer for the art news source, LookIntoMyOwl.com until January 2013 when it merged with NOWhere Limited’s Magazine.




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