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Dan Flavin at LACMA: We are made in his lightness

Minimalist, Dan Flavin's world tour concludes at LACMA

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by LamontPaul, for outsideleft.com
originally published: May, 2007
imagine the wonder Flavin felt the first time he went down to the hardware store and saw they'd taken to stocking those circular fluorescent tubes in 1972

Dan Flavin: A Retrospective
Los Angeles County Museum of Art

until August 12th, 2007

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where it resides until August 12th is the final stop on the 'Dan Flavin: A Retrospective' tour. The show is billed as the first comprehensive exhibition devoted to the groundbreaking New York minimalist's entire career. Previously Mr. Lake attended the London show at the Hayward Gallery on the European leg of the tour. (Read his remarks here). I don't think we can add much if anything to Lake's summation, other than, now the Dan Flavin show is here, you really should see it in all it's electric splendor.

Featuring 40 works, at least 38 of them constructed/installed using bog standard fluorescent tubes and occasionally other commercially available light fittings, and a couple of items 'untitled (to a man, George McGovern)' where Flavin used circular tubes arranged en masse. Can't help but imagine the wonder Flavin felt the first time he went down to the hardware store and saw they'd taken to stocking those circular fluorescent tubes in 1972. Looks like he picked up their entire stock for his 'untitled (to a man, George McGovern)' which he unveiled in 1972 days before McGovern, the anti-war Democratic presidential candidate lost a general election to Richard Nixon. And well, look how well that turned out.

There are references to obscure (to me and my anti-polymath mind) Russian constructivist's... references to family friends... There is the 'icons' series where you will see what you want to see. There are rooms and corridors brimming with shimmering-light-altering, skintone and color and depth perception all at once altering arrays of light. So much is moving in his light still.

For fans of minimalist art, this may be nirvana. It could only be more minimal in a powercut. What Dan Flavin would've made of those new energy saving mini-fluorescents we're using these days, I don't know.

For me, would it be a disservice to say that all these parallel lines and intersecting angles made me somehow think of a perpendicular electric frank stella?  But there, I've said it anyway, although, Wife-x had admonished in advance. "Why would you even say that."

Oh and it is a speedy walk through, which is a relief at a blockbuster art show these days. Generally, they've become so massively comprehensive, they're too exhausting to digest in one bite and require return visits for a refreshed, second look. With Flavin, it is a comfortable whizz through.

The afternoon then moved on to a lovely lecture outside on the Los Angeles Times' Courtyard, Lisa Roberts' 'antiques of tomorrow'. Buy two of everything I heard. Buy two Dyson's (the only company aside from Alessi that matters) and only use one of them. Right, she should try living with a cat that sheds as much fur as our Monster, you need a Dyson for each hand.

Visit the LACMA website: http://www.lacma.org

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