Dan Flavin: Light White, Light Heat

A breakthrough 1964 solo show, recreated

JFK is a year in his grave, Vietnam is escalating,Warhol's elegiac flowers are on view at Castelli, and the Velvet Underground is coalescing from the dark recesses of downtown deviance. Dec-ember 1964 conjures a Gotham both on edge and brilliantly edgy, so it's really no surprise that this re-creation of Dan Flavin's breakthrough solo show from that far-off month is the freshest, most challenging and uplifting exhibition in town. First, take a long look at the sketches that Flavin executed for visualizing the placement of his fluorescent lights in the original Green Gallery space, especially a see-through floor plan in pencil. It's fascinating to see how the artist's vision adjusted once his luminous works were actually in place—four vertical lamps have been edited completely out of one piece. Then there's the work itself, pure light handled with a painter's aplomb. Depthless grays are manifested in the center of A primary picture, a rectangle constructed from red, yellow, and blue light tubes. In another piece, differing temperature tints of "daylight" and "cool white" bulbs radiate from five white diagonals; where these tones meet and fade across the white wall, they create an enthralling limbo. Get in tight on Red and green alternatives to see how the darker tubes reflect the lighter ones (the Flavin estate periodically commissions large batches of discontinued hues from G.E.). The colors drift across these plain industrial fixtures like spray paint, flickering where they collide and recalling the numinous joins in a Rothko canvas. Although most of these seminal works hang on the wall like paintings, one spreads across the floor—not simply sculpture, really, but something beyond retinal stimulation and volume. Call it manufactured spiritualism.


Best in glow: Flavin's 1964 Green Gallery re-creation at Zwirner & Wirth
Zwirner & Wirth
Best in glow: Flavin's 1964 Green Gallery re-creation at Zwirner & Wirth

Details

Dan Flavin: The 1964 Green Gallery Exhibition
Zwirner & Wirth
32 East 69th Street
Through May 3

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