Dan Flavin tried the priesthood and the army before he decided on fine art.

By Amah-Rose Abrams
Dan Flavin untitled (to Barry, Mike, Chuck and Leonard), (1972–1975) Photo: courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery
Dan Flavin’s work consists of few materials—color, light, and space. What he managed to do with these seemingly simple elements has amounted to an important and lasting legacy that changed the course of 20th century art. A native New Yorker, he initially intended to become a priest until he left his religious studies and joined the US Air force. While serving in Korea between 1954 and 1955, Flavin began to study art as part of an extended course run by the University of Maryland. In 1961, the young artist was working as a mail room clerk in the Guggenheim Museum, where he met and befriended fellow artist Sol LeWitt, critic and curator Lucy Lippard, and minimalist painter Robert Ryman. It was also in this year that he began experimenting with fluorescent lighting. [More]