Flavin began working with commercially available fluorescent light tubes in 1963. He exhibited them singly or in combination, innovating a complicated and varied range of visual effects using minimal means. Untitled (to the “innovator” of Wheeling Peachblow) derives its palette from Wheeling Peachblow, a type of Victorian art glass first made in Wheeling, West Virginia, that shades from yellow to deep red, producing a delicate peach color in between. Flavin created a similar color by placing one yellow and one pink fluorescent tube on each of the two vertical elements of a square metal armature. Two horizontal daylight tubes, facing the viewer, complete the structure.
Rather than hanging the work flush against the wall, Flavin positioned it on the floor across the corner of a gallery, where the square frames a monochrome plane of colored light and simultaneously defines an opening onto a three-dimensional space. In this way, untitled (to the “innovator” of Wheeling Peachblow) creates a visual effect that invokes the conditions of both painting’s flatness and sculpture’s depth without employing materials traditionally associated with either discipline.
Publication excerpt from From MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019).
Flavin began to use commercially available fluorescent light tubes in 1963. This work marries color and light, bringing them into three dimensions. In dialogue with the surrounding space, the vertical and horizontal tubes both illuminate and obscure the cornera location not typically used for displaying art. Though the emitted light transcends its physical encasement and transforms the surrounding space, Flavin avoided characterizing his work as sublime and instead considered his light installations "situations" or proposals. "One might not think of light as a matter of fact, but I do," he stated. "And it is...as plain and open and direct an art as you will ever find."
Gallery label from From the Collection: 1960-69, March 26, 2016 - March 12, 2017.