Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dan Flavin ~ (to Donna) II, His Light and Others

Dan Flavin's week here at Fifty Two Pieces is almost over and we haven't included a single portrait of this artist who had studied to be a priest, served in the Air Force during the Korean War, worked as a guard at various New York museums, changed how we looked at florescent lights, married his second wife in the rotunda of the Guggenheim and ultimately died of complications from diabetes. To make up for that, here is Portrait of Flavin in Kornblee Gallery. It was taken by Arnold Newman in 1967 for Look Magazine. Those jagged edges make it a unique image, one that is not easily forgotten - much like experiencing a roomful of his work. The caption for this portrait says it all.

Flavin's 'proposals' usually take possession of an entire room, making it part of, rather than a container for, the effect. To simulate this, fold the four walls in the photograph up.

untitled (to Donna) II 1971 or as it is sometimes listed untitled (to Donna) 2 1971 is situated on the second floor of the CMCA at the Portland Art Museum. It does become part of the corner where it's installed. The other day the blue tube wasn't on and the entire effect was different. There was no mixing of the palette and the wall seemed so sterile by comparison to its normal colorful glow. Flavin's work in florescent tubes changed the public's view of this standard industrial light. There is other art at the museum that uses light, not florescent, but in the case of Joseph Kosuth, neon.

Five Words in Orange Neon is also part of the collection at the Portland Art Museum. To quote Flavin, Kosuth's work is what it is... five words in orange neon. Compared with Flavin's florescents though it's a different type of light, a different artistic approach. And one that enchanted Emma Paget. After her grandmother took her to the Portland Art Museum, little Emma sent a thank you note and included her version of Kosuth's sculpture.

Kosuth's orange neon has entranced young and old alike. A quick look at Flickr with Portland Art and neon as tags and you'll see any number of images of his work at PAM.
From a different museum and a different artist comes another view of light. Olafur Eliasson's take on light and our perceptions of light can currently be seen in Kanazawa, Japan. Just keep clicking on the page after you initially go to his website (click here) and you'll be able to view a portion of the exhibition. In 2008, I was able to experience Eliasson's exhibition entitled "Take Your Time" at MoMA. The museum's site has quite a few videos and other information about this artist's work with all of our senses, including sight and how light affects our perception of the world around us. The direct link for Eliasson at MoMA is here. Youtube has a portion of some of the MoMA videos. Watch them and you can hear Eliasson talk about his work and see some of his installations.

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