Dan Flavin

United States of America  1933–1996

Dan Flavin was born on 1 April 1933 in New York. After attending a seminary from 1947 to 1952, he undertook the United States Air Force Meteorological Technician Training Program and was posted to Korea in 1954–55. On his return to New York he studied art history at the New School for Social Research in 1956, and then at Columbia University from 1957 to 1959. In 1961 he showed constructions and watercolours at his first exhibition at the Judson Gallery, New York. Flavin began to use electric lights in his work at this time and by 1963 was making works using only fluorescent tubes. These were first shown at a solo exhibition at Kaymar Gallery, New York, in 1964. A major exhibition of his work was held at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, in 1969. In 1973 his installations were shown at the St Louis Art Museum, and at the Kunsthalle, Cologne. A survey of his work was organised by the Scottish Arts Council, Edinburgh, in 1976; museum exhibitions of his work have occurred regularly from then on, notably at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1982, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, in 1984, and Dan Flavin: The Architecture of Light, at the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin, 1999–2000. In 1992 the artist completed a major installation for the re-opening of the Guggenheim, New York. The Dan Flavin Art Institute was opened in 1983 in Bridgehampton, New York, to display the artist’s work permanently, whilst Flavin’s untitled (Marfa project) 1996 was unveiled at The Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, in 2000. Flavin died at Riverhead, New York, on 29 November 1996.

See more works by this artist in the NGA collection

Dan Flavin monument to V. Tatlin 1966-69 © Dan Flavin. ARS/Copyright Agency Purchased 1978 Learn more