Dan Flavin: It Is What It Is and It Ain’t Nothing Else
13 April – 26 June 2016
Free to all
Fluorescent light works by the no-nonsense American artist go on display in Birmingham.
The exhibition takes its name from a statement made by the artist, who resisted attempts to impress any kind of symbolism on his work. He spoke out against 'art for art's sake', believing instead a piece should refer to nothing but its factual presence.
Flavin had a similarly straightforward approach to his practice; as well as working with readily available commercial lights, he would only make an installation once it had been sold so as to avoid unnecessary production and storage costs.
Born in New York, Flavin was educated at Catholic schools and originally studied to become a priest. In the 1950s he left to join his twin brother, David, in the United States Air Force where he was trained as a meteorological technician and studied art through the extension programme.
After returning home he began making sketches for sculptures that incorporated electric lights, one of which he dedicated to David who had died of polio in 1962. This initiated a new theme in Flavin's work, and he went on to name all of his later pieces after artists and friends who inspired him. Included in this exhibition are his tributes to Don Judd, Vladimir Tatlin, Jasper Johns and Roy and Dorothy Lichtenstein.
This exhibition plays on the gallery's diverse interior architecture, bathing an array of interesting and unusual spaces, corners and crevices in fluorescent light.