Untitled (to a man, George McGovern)

  • 1972
  • Dan Flavin
  • strip lights
  • 316 x 316 x 10,3 cm
  • Location not on view.
  • Acquired in 1979
  • Inventory number 1107

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This work by the American artist Dan Flavin was made with neon tubes. 55 white circular neon tubes are attached to the wall in a particular pattern in a corner of the museum gallery. The bottom line of ten neon tubes begins just above the floor. The others have been placed in a straight line above the bottom row, and each row has one lamp fewer at the end than the row below it, creating a right-angled triangle of neon tubes.

From 1963 Dan Flavin worked exclusively with industrially manufactured neon tubes. He used different sorts: straight tubes in four standard lengths, which were available in nine different colours, and one-size circular tubes, which were white. Flavin used them to make simple, comprehensible constructions. The works can be seen as individual sculptures, but the arrangement is directly related to the space in which they are exhibited. Flavin’s work is classified as Minimal Art. In this movement, the artists prefer to work with geometric forms and industrial materials and the relationship between the artwork and the environment plays an important role.

Flavin’s installations have an unsettling effect on direct perception. The light that is spread through the neon tubes changes the way in which the viewer experiences the architecture of the exhibition space: solid corners change into optical triangles, and as a result of light reflections, the material qualities of the floor, wall and ceiling disappear to make way for a coloured glow. Flavin took the reflection of the neon tube onto the wall into account, as well as the spatial effect achieved in that way. He decided on the size, colour and arrangement of the tubes specially for each space. He is concerned not only with the light cast by the tubes, but also with the light source itself: the shape of the neon tubes, their lengths, their colours and their position in relation to each other.

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