Using everyday fluorescent lamps, the late conceptual artist Dan Flavin created sculptures that transformed the architecture of rooms and challenged notions of space. He called his glowing installations “situations,” tracing walls, corners, and floors in unpredictable ways that played with color and structure. The artist chose an equally unexpected path for himself – before pursuing art, Flavin studied to become a priest and joined the U.S. Air Force. In the early ‘60s, around the time he began experimenting with light, he worked as a clerk in the Guggenheim’s mailroom.
Flavin is being honored twice this December — in a holiday light installation that opened this week at Calvin Klein’s Madison Avenue flagship store, and in the book Dan Flavin: Corners, Barriers and Corridors, published by David Zwirner Books.
Calvin Klein’s tribute, pictured in the slideshow ahead, is a nod to Flavin’s history with the brand per chief creative officer Raf Simons’s request: Twenty years ago, in 1996, Klein commissioned Flavin to create “untitled,” a festive light installation that opened on Madison Avenue in December of that year, just one month after Flavin’s death. The same work is now on view at the brand’s Madison Avenue flagship. Click ahead to see the installation along with colorful images from the book.