The Cardi Gallery in Milan presents the public with 14 luminous works by Dan Flavin created by the artist from the late 1960s to the 1990s. A luminous path that shows the evolution of Flavin’s research on the concept of space, light and color, fundamental elements in art. By rethinking and customizing these notions, Dan Flavin proposes his “Icons”, installations made with common neon wall lamps. Two, three, four horizontal and vertical tubes that intersect creating absolute geometric sculptures that become extraordinary works full of poetry and feeling. The industrial element is then transformed into a work of art. And then the most skeptical will be wondering: what is the difference between a common neon lighted sign and Flavin’s works? If the former want to show us something, the latter, on the contrary, mean absolutely nothing, they are pure light, a concept that can be traced back to the divine presence and to the sacred which simply becomes neon. The gift that Dan Flavin gives us is a subversion of common thought. He teaches us to look at reality with different eyes. The immanence of his sculptures does not need too many explanations even though, many of the visitors present during the vernissage, would have demanded it. We must get used to look at and not contemplate, living with emotions without necessarily finding a rational explanation.
Dan Flavin (1933-1996) has always emphatically denied that his works had any kind of transcendent, sublime or symbolic dimension. Art is what is nothing more. Fluorescent light that fills spaces.
Flavin’s basic and minimal wall-mounted neon lights open the door to an artistic trend born in the 1960s that moves away from all that is redundant. The lack of meaning is what characterizes these wonderful works that find in the spaces of the Cardi gallery the perfect place to live.
Two floors of neon in their essentiality catch the eye of the viewer who finds something extremely simple and attractive in these lights. The spirit of Dan Flavin’s sculptures is that of the Duchampian ready-made, the neon is the basic object ready for use which, articulated in infinite compositions, becomes an essential part of the space in which it finds itself to exist and from which it cannot depart. The metamorphosis is complete. We are facing a new way of understanding the work of art that does not float free in space but discovers its potential. Everything revolves around the luminous energy that guarantees everyone a powerful and spiritual enjoyment. Light extends the gallery’s rooms towards infinity and the space becomes total.
The language of Dan Flavin is not complex and ambiguous but simple and direct and coincides with color in its purest and simplest form. No enigma and no complex element, art is simply what it is. Less is more, the motto of minimalism finds in Flavin one of the greatest performers. The artist himself reaffirms this concept in various statements, moving away from any attempt to give sublime symbols or thoughts to his works. A very conceptual way of thinking that makes his works real representations of raw beauty. Art is thought and Dan Flavin creates through his works the perfect elements to realize this declaration in real matter.
The exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Estate of Dan Flavin and is accompanied by an illustrated catalog that includes an essay by the esteemed Italian art critic Germano Celant.
February 19th – June 28th 2019
Galleria Cardi Milano
Corso di Porta Nuova 38
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 10-19. Saturday by appointment
For all images: © 2018 Estate of Dan Flavin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Courtesy Cardi Gallery
Photo credits: Carlo Vannini