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MINIMALIST ART FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION

Dan Flavin
UNTITLED (TO HANS COPER, MASTER POTTER) 25A
JUMP TO LOT
132

MINIMALIST ART FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION

Dan Flavin
UNTITLED (TO HANS COPER, MASTER POTTER) 25A
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction

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London

Dan Flavin
1933 - 1996
UNTITLED (TO HANS COPER, MASTER POTTER) 25A
five daylight and cool white fluorescent lights
254 by 61 by 12.7 cm. 100 by 24 by 5 in.
Executed in 1990, this work is number 3 from an edition of 5, of which 3 were fabricated.
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The other works from this edition are in the permanent collections of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, and the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main.

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

Provenance

Galerie Bärbel Grässlin, Frankfurt
Private Collection
Christie's, New York, 15 May 2003, Lot 317
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Exhibited

Frankfurt, Galerie Grässlin-Ehrhardt, Dan Flavin (for the master potters, Lucie Rie and Hans Coper) themes and variations, December 1990 - January 1991 (edition no. unknown)
Frankfurt am Main, Städel Museum, Dan Flavin Installationen in fluoreszierendem Licht 1989 - 1993, 1993, no. 9, illustrated (edition no. unknown)

Literature

Jordi Solé Tura, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid 1991, p. 153, installation view (edition no. unknown)
Michael Govan and Tiffany Bell, Dan Flavin: The Complete Lights 1961-1996, New York 2004, p. 388, no. 599, illustrated in colour (edition no. unknown)

Catalogue Note

INTRO:

"The idea becomes the machine that makes the art"
Sol LeWitt
Exh. Cat., New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Sol LeWitt, 1978, p. 9

The American minimalists challenge the eye to see what is unseen. In their works our minds discover the physicality of space and its negative counterpart, and in their unique visual paradigm we find an adherence to the fundamental element of form: for art should not refer to anything other than itself. Sol LeWitt, Dan Flavin, Joel Shapiro and Robert Morris, are among this innovative group of artists working in New York in the 1960s and 70s, who sought to reject the self-reflexivity and emotion evident in the post-war Abstract Expressionism of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Robert Motherwell. Minimalism became a radically new form of modernism that paid respect to Brancusi, Mondrian, and Malevich as the ultimate masters of abstraction. Their radical interpretation and simplification of form, image, and colour are essential influences to the “reductive sensibility” of this new generation of American artists.

The present collection of works by Sol LeWitt, Dan Flavin, Robert Morris, Joel Shapiro, Sherrie Levine, and Hiroshi Sugimoto offer an exceptional spectrum of Minimalist sculpture, painting, photography, and light installation, all of which engage facile geometric forms and a distinct focus on materiality. The modular fabrication of these works demands both a physical and visual response on the part of the viewer, and as a result the observer becomes equally significant as the object itself and the space in which it is situated. Dan Flavin’s Untitled (for Hans Cooper, master potter) appeals to this profound level of viewer interaction in his sculpting of space and colour zones through a unique form of two-dimensional illusionism. Flavin’s placement of five perpendicular bars of fluorescent white light invites the viewer to step into the installation’s luminescence, immediately altering the observer’s perception of the architectural space occupied by the work. This piece is therefore experiential, and Flavin’s dialogue singularly concerns light and form:  “The factor of time does not exist in his works. The simultaneous apprehension of light and space ensues without precondition and without further reverberation.” (Klaus Gallwitz , Installationen In Fluoreszierendem Licht 1989-1993, Frankfurt am Main 1993, p. 6.)

While Flavin’s preoccupation is light, Morris’ work offers similar qualities in his willingness to invite viewer interaction as well as his comparable manipulation of architectural spaces. Morris’ Black Felt from 1984 utilises the right angle between wall and floor as a spatial framework for his piece, and offers an exceptional example of the artist’s repertoire that takes “relationships out of the work and make[s] them a function of space, light, and the viewer’s field of vision” (Robert Morris cited in: Exh. Cat., New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Robert Morris: the Mind/Body Problem, 1994, p. 11) .

For these iconic minimalists, the artistic process is guided by a technical and mechanical utilisation of industrial materials, such as Flavin’s fluorescent light tubes, Shapiro’s cast bronze, as well as LeWitt’s aluminium, as exemplified by the later artist’s work entitled #1 of 1984. This emphasis on medium and material is made explicit in Donald Judd’s statement that, “a form, a mass, a colour, a surface is already a thing in itself and should not be hidden within it as part of a completely different totality. Form and materials should be seen without context” (Donald Judd cited in: Exh. Cat., Tübingen, Kunsthalle Tübingen, Richard Serra, 1978, p. 209). LeWitt utilises such materials to evoke a powerful geometric vocabulary, and in his oeuvre we see right angles, cubes, and boxes arranged, re-arranged and juxtaposed to appropriate and pre-empt the space that they occupy.

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s sleek, monochromatic photographs offer a parallel aesthetic in their exploration of form, perception, and representation. In his seminal seascape photographs, such as South Pacific Ocean Maraenui and North Atlantic Ocean, Cliffs of Moher, the ocean becomes a linear spatial entity with which the viewer must visually and mentally interact: “In photograph after photograph, the horizon line precisely bisects the image, dividing two basic elements that lie outside our visual scope—water and air—into two optically equal but identical halves” (Thomas Kellein, ‘An Art that Teaches No Belief’, in: Thomas Kellein, et al., Eds., Hiroshi Sugimoto: Time Exposed, Stuttgart 1995, p. 10). Sugimoto’s images share with the minimalists a distinct austerity and equally challenge the viewer’s visual treatment of form, space and time.

The present selection of works, which together unveils a three-decade long timeline of the Minimalist movement, is evocative of the collection at Dia: Beacon, an institution paramount to the support and fostering of this unique group of artists. Founded in New York City in 1974, Flavin, LeWitt, and Morris, among others, have had solo exhibitions, installations and projects on view at this significant institution now located by the Hudson River in Beacon, New York . In a similar manner to the selection of works at Dia:, the present collection offers a striking representation of the icons of American minimalism, and fundamentally “puts contemporary neighbours and remote art historical spheres to the test” (Klaus Gallwitz, op. cit., p. 6).

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QUOTE FOR FLAVIN WORK:

"Regard the light and you are fascinated - practically inhibited from grasping its limits at each end… this waning cannot really be measured without resisting consummate visual effects."
Dan Flavin
Exh. Cat., Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Three Installations in Fluorescent Light, 1973-74, p. 87

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