Impromptu and confusing art. Or is it construction?


Our family, our sons and my wife, will recognize this thread, in spirit at least.

Funny enough.

Then . . .

The whole thread is worth reading.

My family? Well, there was that tour of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth a few years back . . .

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth - Diagonal of May 25, 1963 1963 Dan Flavin American, 1933-1996 Warm white fluorescent light, edition 2/3 96 inches

Diagonal of May 25, 1963 1963 Dan Flavin American, 1933-1996 Warm white fluorescent light, edition 2/3 96 inches Although Dan Flavin is invariably described as one of the patriarchs of Minimalist sculpture—along with his colleagues Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, Carl Andre, and Robert Morris—he has generally rejected the appellation “Minimalist” and even the term “sculpture” as too confining a designation, often pointing out that his works are ephemeral, temporary, and installed in relation to given architectural conditions. Flavin began making his signature works of industrially prefabricated fluorescent tubes and fixtures in 1963. Emanating different colors of light, Flavin’s installations have an indeterminate volume and appear virtually without mass, and it is true that their ethereal presence remains distinct from the emphatic physicality of most Minimalist sculpture. A more rigorous connection can be seen with Marcel Duchamp’s Readymades, which offer an important precedent for Flavin’s off-the-shelf materials and his reliance on the common, found object. Like Duchamp, Flavin considered his works to be “proposals” rather than sculptures, part of a system of investigations rather than static objects. Diagonal of May 25, 1963, 1963 is one of Flavin’s first and most important investigations into the formal possibilities of using standard fluorescent light fixtures in commercially available colors. The image of the diagonal was a critical early theme executed by the artist, in series and according to simple mathematical configurations. Flavin made a number of diagonal “proposals” in different colors, alternating their angles from right to left. Flavin executed the first diagonal in gold light, subsequently making diagonals in green, yellow, and red. The Museum’s Diagonal of May 25, 1963 may be the most conceptually and formally pure work in the series: pure white, ultraviolet light. In his 1965 essay “‘…in daylight or cool white.’ an autobiographical sketch,” Flavin refers to the Diagonal of May 25, 1963 as a “diagonal of personal ecstasy” describing its “forty-five degrees above horizontal” position as one of “dynamic equilibrium.” The artist envisioned the diagonal as a contemporary symbol that “in the possible extent of its dissemination as a common strip of light or a shimmering slice across anybody’s wall, had the potential for becoming a modern technological fetish.”(1) – Michael Auping (1) Dan Flavin, “‘…in daylight or cool white.’ an autobiographical sketch,” Artforum 4 (December 1965): 20–24.

For the record, we tend to seek out modern art pieces that compare to Flavin’s work now, having found some in later visits to Fort Worth, some in the Dallas Museum of Art, and some in the Whitney Museum in New York, and in other places, that offer wonderful opportunities to ponder modern life, what is art, and to laugh.

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4 Responses to Impromptu and confusing art. Or is it construction?

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Did you get to the Getty in Los Angeles? I haven’t been.

    I did spend a wonderful afternoon at the Pasadena museum — they have a lot of treasures I didn’t expect to see, especially in abstract and representational art.

    Like

  2. It is nice to have a son to act as host! Our son lived in San Francisco and Los Angeles for several years before moving back to Houston, so we had a great tour guide for museums and attractions there.

    Like

  3. Ed Darrell says:

    I love the Houston museum. Here in the DFW area we have both the Dallas Museum of Art and the Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art, in addition to the Kimbell and Amon Carter museums in Fort Worth. A lot of opportunity to see odd stuff — and it’s always intriguing to me.

    We visited the Whitney in New York in July 2016. One of the displays, outdoors, was windmills like those we see on the farms and ranches of Texas, generating electricity for another part of the display, though, not pumping water. Our older son had a thing for any thing that looked like a fan with blades, so we took special note of that display (fortunately, he was hosting us in New York).

    Maybe I should dig up the files and post some of that stuff. Lots of fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Art is where you find it! Love the sign “Unknown Contractor!” My tastes in art are fairly tolerant as I try not to judge too harshly since I do not create art myself. Some modern art I really appreciate. When we visit Son in Houston we sometimes go to the Houston Museum of Fine Art and have encountered “light” installations and minimalist art. We smile and go on to something more traditional we can recognize. Perhaps at times it is difficult to separate art from reality. Good post! May you and your family continue to enjoy art! Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

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