191112: mumok Museum moderner Kunst - Dan Flavin – Lights

mumok Museum moderner Kunst - Dan Flavin – Lights 13.10.2012 – 03.02.2013 Pathos of the tubes Why visit a Dan Flavin exhibition? Don’t his works have the effect of stereotype repetitions of the same topic? Not necessarily. The light tubes used in Flavin’s works develop very diverse effects in different surroundings. In contrast to the clean museum atmosphere, with its tendency to increase mystification, in galleries they appear as sober citations in an urban context. Maybe some of you remember the outstanding presentation in 1991 in the Galerie nächst St. Stephan. Flavin did not only relate to the outside space. He also created works for the outside; such as site-specific light installations for the Science Park Gelsenkirchen or the Museum Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. That Flavin’s oeuvres aren’t really all that well known argues well in favour of an exhibition. And that, in turn, has to be compiled so that the individual works have enough space and clearance from each other. The mumok is well able to comply with these requirements. Consequently, the minimalists are thus presented extensively. However, because of this, the intrinsic contradictions in Flavin’s work are underlined. It seems legitimate to provide four floors with a total of 2400 m2 of exhibition space to present such a significant position of Modernism. But through this an enormous pathos develops which is even increased by the reflections of the light on the floor. Thereby, Flavin’s initial principle of reduction suddenly changes into a manifestation of the sublime. A remarkable effect! This could also be derived as a topic from the artist’s biography (1933 – 1996, New York). If nothing else, Flavin’s religious attitude is expressed by the fact that he took part in a priest seminar in the early 1950s. The approximately 30 light works are really impressive: the small picture-like works as well as the later serials and in particular the “monuments” for V. Tatlin based on white light. To refer to Tatlin as representative of the Russian avant-garde seems plausible, but the numerous dedications to collectors and Dan Flavin’s acquaintances appears somewhat sentimental and pedantic. But that was the way it was. Likewise Flavin, who confronts the aesthetic aspects of the technical improvements aggressively, and the majority of his works appear to have developed from the classical medium of drawings and architectural drafts. This aspect brings the exhibition in a cabinet-like side area but is treated far too little. That one could have got more out of everything becomes obvious when reading the catalogue material. This brings another question up – not if one should visit a Dan Flavin exhibition, but how large the information value of such a retrospective is. Museums also have the task to offer information and thereby broaden the cultural competence of its audience. And a further question is the relevance of such an exhibition. Flavin doubtlessly has his justification in post-war Modernism. However, only if one sees this in connection with the paradigm of the Cold War and bases it on the fact that the determining coordinates of art history are based upon the axis of the western powers Berlin, Düsseldorf, Paris, New York and Los Angeles. If one does not evaluate the ideological requirement for an exhibition too strongly, another issue arises: why devote nearly 4 months to a Flavin exhibition in the mumok? In two months at the latest, the value of the information would be amply fulfilled. mumok Museum moderner Kunst 1070 Vienna, MuseumsQuartier, Museumsplatz 1 Tel: +43 1 52 500 Fax: + 41 1 52 500 13 00 Email: infoLmumok.at http://www.mumok.at Opening hours: daily: 10.00 – 18.00 hours, Thu: 10.00 – 21.00 hours

mumok - Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien
1070 Wien, Museumsquartier, Museumsplatz 1
Tel: +43 1 52 500, Fax: +43 1 52 500 13 00
Email: info@mumok.at
Öffnungszeiten: Täglich: 10.00–18.00 Uhr, Do: 10.00–21.00 Uhr

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