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Dan Flavin (1933-1996)
PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION 
Dan Flavin (1933-1996)

Untitled

Details
Dan Flavin (1933-1996)
Untitled
red and yellow fluorescent light
72 x 4¾in. (183 x 12cm.)
Executed in 1968, this work is number one from an edition of three
Provenance
Galerie Heiner Friedich, Munich.
Konrad Fischer Galerie, Dusseldorf.
Marzona Collection, Berlin.
Galerie Ronny van de Velde, Antwerp.
Acquired from the above by the late owners in 1991 and thence by descent to the present owners.
Literature
B. Rohe, 'Kunstmark 68', in Das Kunstwerk, no. 21, August-September 1968 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 68).
D. Honisch and J. C. Jensen (eds), Amerikanische Kunst von 1945 bis Heute, Cologne 1976, p. 168.
H. Ohff, Galerie der Neuen Künste. Revolution ohne Programm, Vienna 1971 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 284).
Phoenix, exh. cat., Frankfurt, Alte Oper, 1981 (another from the edition illustrated, pp. 110-111).
D. Fischer (ed.), Galerie mit Bleistift Fischer, Bielefeld 1993 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 27).
M. Dovan and T. Bell, Dan Flavin: The Complete Lights 1961-1996, New York 2004, no. 180 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 273).
K. Sauerländer (ed.), Karl Ströher. Eine Sammlergeschichte, 2005 (illustrated in colour, p. 171).
With a Probability of Being Seen. Dorothee and Konrad Fischer: Archives of an Attitude, exh. cat., Barcelona, Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), 2010 (another from the edition illustrated in colour, p. 137).
Exhibited
Munich, Galerie Heiner Friedich, Dan Flavin, 1968.
Dusseldorf, Galerie Konrad Fischer, Dan Flavin: Fluorescent light, 1969.
Hamburg, Kunstverein Hamburg, Sammlung 1968: Karl Ströher, 1969. Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, Dan Flavin, 1969.
Darmstadt, Hessisches Landesmuseum, Bildnerische Ausdrucksformen 1960-1970, Sammlung Karl Ströher, 1970 (another from the edition exhibited, illustrated in colour, p. 154).
Dusseldorf, Städtische Kunsthalle, Prospect Retrospect, Europa 1946-1976, 1976 (another from the edition exhibited, illustrated, p. 101).
Frankfurt, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Deutschen Architekturmuseums, Bilder für Frankfurt, 1985 (another from the edition exhibited, illustrated in colour, p. 47).
Bielefeld, Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Concept Art, Minimal Art, Arte Povera, Land Art. Sammlung Marzona, 1990 (illustrated in colour, p. 123).
Sale Room Notice
Please note that the currency estimates should read

USD160.000-230.000
EUR120.000-170.000

and not as printed in the catalogue.

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Louisa Robertson
Louisa Robertson Auction Administrator & Condition Reports

Lot Essay

'A process of elimination produces red... Then you learn about the relativities of it-that red is a rather precious thing in fluorescent light, as it once was in the historic traditions of Western painting. You have to manage red carefully. You know, the touch in a Goya, or something like that, the touch of red which makes the painting? Thats revived in fluorescent lighting. You have to be very careful in its management because most other colours and white put it down... Red and yellow will make orange in certain trapping, back lighting situations. You have to carry this [information] in your head like a computer' (D. Flavin in Dan Flavin interviewed by Phyllis Tuchman in 1972, in Dan Flavin: A Retrospective, exh. cat., Washington, 2004, p.193).



Executed in 1968, Untitled is both radical in its conception and its execution. With its emphatic use of modular industrial materials and the erasure of the artists hand from the object, this work represents a quintessential example of the bourgeoning ideas related to Minimal and Conceptual art in the 1960s. This work is from a series of nine works called two primaries and a secondary, a complete set of which was part of the Ströher collection (now housed in the collection of the Museum für moderne Kunst in Frankfurt am Main). Throughout his entire career, Dan Flavin was fascinated by the effects that could be culled from lamps that were only available in a limited number of standardised lengths, colours and diameters. These pre-fabricated geometric units offered a pre-set system of form and colour that could be harnessed to create works of extraordinary graphic power and atmospheric beauty. In Untitled, two vertical, austere light fixtures bleed an aura of colour onto the wall behind, subtly blending red and gold in a warm artificial glow.

This work is the first in a sequence of light sculptures that employ red and yellow tubes stepped side by side up the wall. Flavin began the small series by staggering these two tubes and followed a logical succession by stacking four, then six tubes together in progressively growing towers of light. As the visual kernel for this sequence, the thin, rigid lines of the present work have a striking simplicity and purity. They recall the work of Barnett Newman who painted vertical bands of pigment-or 'zips'- through expansive fields of colour. Newman thought of his zips as streaks of light that defined the spatial structure of his work and Untitled takes these concepts a step further, bringing them to life in vivid three dimensional form. Like a painting, Untitled is mounted flat against a wall and involves the juxtaposition and mixing of colours. Flavin has also paid close attention to scale, proportion, and composition. But this work departs from the conventions and constructs of established art practice through its emanation of light, which dissolves the physical, material nature of the art object with ethereal and intangible luminescence.

Through relentless experimentation, Flavin learned how to masterfully manipulate the limited number of combinations proposed by these standardised fixtures. He did not have an interest in the hard physics of light, but he did have an interest in their blended effects. The tones of fluorescent lights are controlled by the phosphorescent compounds that coat the inside of the sealed glass tube. No mixture of phosphors can make a true red, so the inside of fluorescent red tubes are tinted, thereby blocking the amount of emitted light. Flavin observed this and carefully considered how he would use the hue, and what colour relationships he would establish with it. 'A process of elimination produces red', he explained. 'Then you learn about the relativities of it-that red is a rather precious thing in fluorescent light, as it once was in the historic traditions of Western painting. You have to manage red carefully. You know, the touch in a Goya, or something like that, the touch of red which makes the painting? That's revived in fluorescent lighting. You have to be very careful in its management because most other colours and white put it down... Red and yellow will make orange in certain trapping, back lighting situations. You have to carry this [information] in your head like a computer' (D. Flavin in 'Dan Flavin interviewed by Phyllis Tuchman in 1972', in Dan Flavin: A Retrospective, exh. cat., Washington, 2004,
p.193).

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