Dan Flavin

Untitled (Corner Piece)


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Not on display

Dan Flavin 1933–1996
Fluorescent tubes on metal
Object: 1226 × 1226 × 203 mm
Purchased 1973

Display caption

Flavin made a number of works intended to be shown in corners, engaging directly with the
architecture of the gallery. This particular corner piece is the second of an edition of five, the
customary edition size for Flavin’s smaller works. The size of the work was determined so that
the fluorescent light tubes could be fastened in the centre only without having to be anchored to
the floor. The artist rejected any symbolic significance of the cross figuration, insisting that it was simply a form that made good use of the corner.

Gallery label, July 2007

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Catalogue entry

Dan Flavin born 1933 [- 1996]

T01824 Untitled 1969

Not inscribed
Fluorescent tubes on metal backing, 48 1/4 x 48 1/4 (122.5 x 122.5). The length of the tubes themselves, excluding the prongs at both ends, is 47 (119.5)
Purchased from the artist through the Lisson Gallery (Grant-in-Aid) 1973
Exh: Dan Flavin, Lisson Gallery, London, November-December 1973 (no catalogue)

This work consists of two 4ft (122cm) fluorescent 'quick start' fittings bolted together in the configuration of a cross; a vertical red tube on the inside and a horizontal blue on the outside. It is designed to span a corner at eyelevel height, and combines direct and reflected light. The Tate's piece is the second of an edition of five. It is Flavin's practice to make his small works (up to 4ft) in editions of five, and his larger works in editions of two or three.

Flavin told the compiler on 18 December 1974 that this particular work has never been made larger than 4ft for the reason that, being fastened only in the centre, it would be rather unstable, and would have to be anchored to the floor. He prefers his pieces to be entirely self-supporting. He did however make a drawing project for an exhibition at the Kornblee Gallery in New York in 1968 of different-sized versions of this work - 2ft, 4ft, 6ft, 8ft - all to be shown in the same room, but this was never carried out and was to have been entirely in white. The only other versions that have been executed are a 2ft multiple made in Munich which was blue in the front and pink at the back (published in an edition of 40, plus 10 for himself), and a 4ft version in white of which the first of the edition originally belonged to Jan van der Marck.

He added that this configuration did not have any symbolic significance for him and was just a form that worked well and made use of the corner. Asked whether his corner pieces could have been influenced at all by Tatlin's corner reliefs, he agreed that some connection was possible.

His first installation that spanned a corner was a piece subsequently dedicated to Frank Stella which was made to be shown at the Kornblee Gallery in February 1966. It consisted of a 6ft pink strip in front and a 2ft gold at the back, the whole shaped like an inverted T, and was mounted low down, about 15cm from the floor. It made use of the corner to trap the light and to produce an illuminated colour mix. His first work to give the impression of taking the corner away, or dissolving it, was a square with white fluorescent light made for an exhibition at the Nicholas Wilder Gallery, Los Angeles, in December 1966.

A certificate for the present work, signed by the artist, is in the Gallery's files.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.220-1, reproduced p.220

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