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Dan Flavin

MOCA Pacific Design Center

Dan Flavin’s long-professed commitment to extending art’s parameters into the realms of utility and/or decoration is distinctly at odds with the reductive and formalist theoretical stance of his art. This was especially true in his early career, when it was difficult to see a single 8-foot fluorescent tube attached diagonally to a wall as either useful or decorative. While it looked like a straightforward utilitarian object, it was not part of a ceiling fixture, or positioned to illuminate working or reading space; rather, the tube’s Duchampian detachment from its usual context made it difficult to approach in any way other than “pure esthetic contemplation.”

But the literalness of Flavin’s presentation and materials works against either a purely utilitarian or a purely esthetic experience. For all its straightforwardness and purity his art is a hybrid form which incorporates references to

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