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Dan Flavin

“monument” for V. Tatlin

1969

During the early 1960s, Dan Flavin developed a new abstract visual language, using industrial fluorescent tubes as a medium to create immaterial compositions made from light. One of fifty Monuments that he created between 1964 and 1985 in homage to Russian Constructivist artist Vladimir Tatlin and his unrealized tower Monument to the Third International (1919), “monument” for V. Tatlin is a wall-mounted sculpture composed of cool white fluorescent fixtures of varying lengths. Of the series, Flavin confessed: “I always use ‘monuments’ in quotes to emphasize the ironic humor of temporary monuments. These ‘monuments’ only survive as long as the light system is useful.”

Dan Flavin (b. 1933, New York; d. 1996, Riverhead, New York)
“monument” for V. Tatlin, 1969
Cool white fluorescent light
96 x 30 1/2 in.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Gift of Lenore S. and Bernard A. Greenburg

My concern for the thought of Russian artist-designer Vladimir Tatlin was prompted by the man’s frustrated, insistent attitude to attempt to combine artistry and engineering. The pseudo-monuments, structural designs for clear but temporary cool-white fluorescent lighting, were to honor the artist ironically. —Dan Flavin

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