Dia Art Foundation will present Dan Flavin: icons at the Dan Flavin Art Institute in Bridgehampton, New York, from April 30, 2015, to April 30, 2017. Bridging the mediums of painting and sculpture, the selection of icons created between 1961 and 1964 connects the work that Flavin made early in his career to the sculptures in light for which he is remembered. Dia previously presented works from this series at Dia Center for the Arts at 548 West 22nd Street from 1997 to 1998 and at the Dan Flavin Art Institute from 1999 to 2003.
Dan Flavin: icons present five of the eight icons from the series. Each wall-mounted work occupies a square box-like construction with a painted surface and attached light fixtures. Given the artist’s Catholic upbringing and education, the use of the word “icon” seems to be a specific, and pointed, choice. Unlike traditional religious icons, Flavin created entirely nonrepresentational artworks and dedicated them to the memory of friends, family, and cultural figures that he admired. These dedications, a process that he continued with his works in light, lend elements of humor, irony, and tragedy to the otherwise austerely untitled sculptures. For example, Flavin dedicated icon I (the heart) (to the light of Sean McGovern which blesses everyone) and icon II (the mystery) (to John Reeves) to his friends and acquaintances in New York City.