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  • Dan Flavin

Untitled (to Cy Twombly) 1

Cool white and daylight fluorescent light
Leihgabe der Österreichischen Ludwig-Stiftung/On loan from the Austrian Ludwig Foundation, seit/since 2012
Inventory number: ÖL-Stg 437/0

US American artist Dan Flavin specified where this work was to be presented: the installation of the combination of two fluorescent tubes had to span a corner. In addition, the lights had to be fixed so that they crossed and faced away from each other. Due to Dan Flavin’s expansive use of space, his artworks make the gallery in which they are presented both the setting for the work and also an integral part of it. The border between artwork and architecture becomes fuzzy. With its title—to Cy Twombly—this 1972 work undermines one of the principles of minimal art. The proponents of this New York art trend of the early 1960s included Sol Le Witt, Donald Judd, and Robert Morris, as well as Dan Flavin and many others. They were all concerned with freeing themselves from narrative and representational functions of art. But by giving this work a title, Flavin connects it with a real, living person and with the “reality” of Cy Twombly’s pictures. It remains an open question how far Flavin adapted or ironically reflected themes and forms from works by fellow artists. Viewers must decide for themselves whether Cy Twombly’s broken white and open pictorial spaces can be at all be transferred into two suspended cold white and daylight fluorescent tubes. There are two ways in which one cannot opt out of this artwork of light. Firstly, viewers are themselves illuminated by it, and thus within the work. Secondly, the title initiates a search for meaning, a strong urge to find content, which might be unsuccessful. This is a playful revelation of the viewer’s desire for a definitive explanation and decoding.