David Zwirner’s new European space in Paris was the talk of the Foire Internationale d'Art Contemporain this October. The 8,600sq ft showcase in the Marais, originally the location for Yvon Lambert’s much-missed eponymous gallery and most recently filled by VNH Gallery, launched with an exhibition by New York-based graphic auteur Raymond Pettibon to great aplomb. The next show is a serious statement – a major exhibition by the late Dan Flavin, from November 30 to February 01, 2020.
This is the first major presentation of Flavin’s work in Paris since his retrospective at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris 13 years ago, and will cover three decades of the pioneering artist’s career. Flavin, who died in 1996, was best known for working with fluorescent lights. In the late 1950s, the Columbia painting graduate worked as a security guard and elevator operator at MoMA in New York, where he met artists Sol LeWitt and Robert Ryman. He, like LeWitt and Ryman, was an artist working with monumental simplicity. In 1963 he began making sculptural compositions out of electric tube lights in a variety of colours.
Flavin’s assemblages of coloured neon tubes were positioned at different angles and locations in creative ways. Using six colours plus four different types of white lamps, Flavin would place his work in corners and corridors and create “barriers” within rooms. The architecture of a space would be transformed completely; it garnered him serious success with shows at MCA Chicago, LACMA, London’s Hayward Gallery, Berlin’s Hamburger Banhof and even interventions in New York City’s Grand Central Station. The minimalist icon also created drawings on paper ranging from sketches for his sculpture to landscapes and small portraits.
The Paris exhibition will include works from the 1960s to the 1990s (from $350,000), with installations ranging from pieces made from a single leaning white lamp to an untitled, large-scale “barrier” originally installed in Donald Judd’s loft building on Spring Street in New York in 1970. This museum-worthy piece will be on view in France for the first time. Zwirner’s large Paris space is a perfect location for a serious representation of Flavin’s work and a sign the gallery is taking its new – and, post-Brexit, only – European location very seriously.