Visiting Artist [sic], Parts 2 & 3: Dan Flavin

In April 2007, I spoke at the University of Utah as part of their Visiting Artist lecture series.

I was stoked, partly because Robert Smithson had famously spoken at the UofU, too, in 1969; his lecture and slideshow, "Hotel Palenque," became an influential part of Smithson's canon, and it's a personal favorite of mine. After his death, the recording of the lecture declared a work, a "multimedia installation" which has been exhibited in museums and was acquired by the Guggenheim.

I took this somewhat problematic transformation as an inspiration for both my topic and my work. So I rounded up some other examples of how money and attention have impacted contemporary artworks after they have left the artists' studios. Then in homage to the hilariously crappy film version of "Hotel Palenque" shot from the audience [it can be viewed in its wobbly entirety on Ubu, which describes it as a "Bootleg film/ documentation / artwork by Alex Hubbard"] I gave my younger brother my video camera, and told him to just let it roll.

The lesson was that money and the market will have its way with your work anyway, so you might as well prepare for it; so at the end, I told the audience that in order to remove any ambiguity in the future, I was officially declaring the lecture to be a work, my first in what Paul Morrissey described as "the medium of the lecture circuit." So I passed around a stack of signed, numbered certificates of authenticity. 46 people took them.

Anyway, I thought the tape was lost immediately after the lecture, but then this weekend, just after the work's 2-year anniversary, I found it in a bag. So I'm ripping it and posting the various segments of the talk on YouTube.

First up: Parts 2&3, Dan Flavin [I'll post Part 1, my intro, but I can't bring myself to intro it.]

In these two segments, I recapped some of the things I found while writing about Flavin's work for the NY Times in 2005, including how collectors are fetishizing vintage hardware over the artist's preferred newness, and how the Estate has adapted to that demand, as well as to the discontinuation of Flavin's original light bulbs and fixtures.

Future segments will look at The Gates, Cary Liebowitz's work, MoMA and the work of Joep van Lieshout, and changes to Smithson's Palenque and Spiral Jetty. Stay tuned.

All Visiting Artist [sic] posts:
Parts 2 & 3: On Dan Flavin
Parts 4 & 5: On Throwing Art Away
video of Part 6: On Joep van Lieshout, which I apparently didn't post here
Parts 7 & 7 [sic] on Robert Smithson

Previously: notes from my interview with Stephen Flavin, which didn't get to me in time to make the NYT
notes from my interview with Emily Rauh Pulitzer, an early curator and collector of Flavin's work, also not completed in time to make the Times
on visiting Flavin's 2004 retrospective at the NGA

Also: Andy Warhol sent an impostor on a college lecture tour in the West; student reporters from the U of U unmasked him, in three parts, I, II, and III [note: U of U student Michelle Condrat researched the historical unfolding of the Fake Warhol Lecture Scandal]

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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greg [at] greg [dot ] org

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first published: April 7, 2009.

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