RC Baker gets all caught up in the spirit in reviewing Zwirner & Wirth’s re-creation of Dan Flavin’s historic 1964 exhibition at Green Gallery, the first time he exhibited only-flourescent works. The show sounds fascinating, and when combined with Flavin’s original installation sketches and documentation and a dedicated catalogue, it surpasses the one-room approximation of the show that was included in the 2005 NGA/Dia/MFAFW retrospective.
Instead of grounding the show and its reception at the time, or exploring how its details related to the artist’s later, lifelong practice, Webster just emotes about being in the space. If that’s an attempt to channel 1964 viewers’ experience, it’s unfortunately not labeled as such. And I think Webster is wrong in his description of how Flavin’s estate deals with the artist’s chosen materials, which were once off-the-shelf, but are now obsolete:
(the Flavin estate periodically commissions large batches of discontinued hues from G.E.)
When I spoke at length with Flavin’s last studio assistant, Steve Morse, who is now the conservator of the estate, for my NY Times story on Flavin’s work, he told me that in the 1980’s, there was a period when GE’s formulation changed, and they started buying up every green light bulb they could. They still have some left, or they did in 2004, anyway. But since then, the estate has documented the chemical formulation of the coating of each color of light bulb, and when it needs more, it has them fabricated in small batches. The off-the-shelf, mass-produced product had become a custom, handmade object. Almost like art.
Dan Flavin: Light White, Light Heat [vv via man]
“Dan Flavin: The 1964 Green Gallery Exhibition” runs through May 3rd [zwirnerandwirth.com]
Previously: Lights Out: The Dark Side of Success [nyt]
My interview with Stephen Flavin