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A Dan Flavin Retrospective in Ottawa

A FEW YEARS AGO a retrospective exhibition implied that an artist of stature had about summed up his career; perhaps he would do more, but it would be in the general stylistic vein of his most established work. Thus is it doubly significant that some of the most original talents of this decade have already had their retrospectives? Whatever the implications, Dan Flavin’s at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa served two purposes: it was a spectacular experience in a period of lethargic museum going, and for the first time Flavin’s innate complexities began to unravel themselves. My only regret is that this showing was so brief (September 13 to October 19), for it is doubtful that another museum will readily duplicate its care and completeness. The National Gallery of Canada is a renovated office building in the Miesian tradition of exposed steel frame and massive glass fenestration.

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