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Dan Flavin’s “‘. . . in daylight or cool white.’”

Page from Artforum 4, no. 4 (December 1965). Dan Flavin, “‘. . . in daylight or cool white.’ an autobiographical sketch.” Shown: Dan Flavin, the diagonal of May 25, 1963.

A SOLITARY LAMP mounted on an aging, flaking studio wall: Shown this way, in an unprepossessing photograph, the diagonal of May 25, 1963 is both lowly and beatific. Accordingly, for the layout of Dan Flavin’s “ ‘. . . in daylight or cool white.’ an autobiographical sketch,” which appeared in these pages in December 1965, the radiant image was reproduced in black-and-white on matte amber stock. For all its candor, the diagonal is weird and complex: a gas-filled electrical readymade that traffics with pictorial and sculptural varieties of modernist abstraction. Flavin tells us that the diagonal signified a rupture: “In the spring of 1963,” he writes, “I felt sufficiently founded in my new work to discontinue it. I took up a recent diagram and declared ‘the diagonal of personal ecstasy’ (‘the diagonal of May 25, 1963’), a common eight foot strip of fluorescent light in any commercially

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