* 1933 New York
† 1996 Riverhead/New York
Dan Flavin was born at New York in 1933. He was self-trained in visual arts, with his light art he became an acknowledged protagonist of Minimal Art: His actual profession was that of a meteorologist and as such he was active in the Korean War. Dan Flavin completed his studies at the New School for Social Research in 1956 and studied art history at Columbia University between 1957 and1959. After he had graduated he earned money as, among others, museum attendant.
Art, especially drawings, had been Dan Flavin´s interest since he was a young boy. In the 1950s he made first oil paintings, as well as constructions and assemblages, it shows that Abstract Expressionism and New Realism were his prime sources of inspiration. In 1961 Dan Flavin had his first exhibition, showing watercolors and abstract constructions at the New York Judson Gallery.
It was in those days that he developed an interest in light as a "material" ("icons"). In 1963 he created the first light installation on basis of neon tubes – the beginning of a success story, as the tubes would remain the dominating material in Dan Flavin´s art. The light installations by Dan Flavin became more and more spacious, and in 1969 he conceived the first light corridor. In some of his works Dan Flavin adds a dedication for famous people from the world of art or from art history to the title.
Dan Flavin always questioned whether he was actually part of the Minimal Art movement, however, the success of his light art is proven by numerous exhibition: In 1966 Dan Flavin showed works at the show "Primary Structures" in New York, in 1968 and 1977 he participated in Documenta exhibition in Kassel. A grand retrospective of his works was on display at the Munich Pinakothek der Moderne in 2006/07 .
Next to light installations, Dan Flavin was also active as drawer and graphic artist. The "Diagramm" as a form of art (and at the same time a "certificate" of his works) has its origins in the early 1970s.
Dan Flavin died at Riverhead/N.Y. In 1996.