Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dan Flavin ~ (to Donna) II and Diagonal of Personal Ecstasy

It's all about the light – that could be the subtitle of this post. With Dan Flavin (whether it's the Portland Art Museum's Unititled (to Donna) II or this image of Diagonal of Personal Ecstasy (the Diagonal of May 25, 1963) or any of his other more than 750 light sculptures), it's all about the light. Diagonal of Personal Ecstasy (the Diagonal of May 25, 1963) goes by many names. Sometimes it's listed as the Diagonal of May 25, 1963 and sometimes as the Diagonal of May 25, 1963 (to Constantin Brancusi). By whichever name it's listed, this single flourescent tube is the first piece of sculpture Flavin created with just florescent lighting. Prior to that he had been combining both florescent and incandescent lighting in his works.

In 1964, Dan Flavin had this to say about this work and his use of light in general.
"The 'diagonal' in its overt simplicity was only the installation of a distended or luminous line of a standard industrial device. Little artistic craft could be possible." 'Craft', in its strict, traditional definition may be absent from Flavin's oeuvre, but creativity, vision, and intellect remain commanding forces, The 'diagonal' of which the artist speaks is one his seminal works, 'the diagonal of May 25, 1963 (to Constantin Brancusci)' (1963). It presents nothing more than an eight foot long yellow - or "gold" - fluorescent light. This sparing composition was the result of a searching artistic exploration: the hunt for a format which "with obvious electric light ... could become my standard yet variable emblem—the 'icon'"
Hear Flavin give an abbreviated version of his artistic statement in this very brief video...

And as a continuation of this week's string of videos here's another from David Zwirner, NYC (Nov 2009). Thanks to Youtube we can all enjoy room after room of Flavin light.


Voice from the Couch said...

I'm still trying to figure out how electricity comes out of the wall. And here he's making art with it.

Anonymous said...

Personal Ecstasy, huh? Wonder why the NGA didn't include that part of the title? Too much explaining to the kiddeies.