Dan Graham

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Dan Graham

Born March 31, 1942 (1942-03-31) (age 67)
Urbana, Illinois
Nationality American
Field Installation art, Sculpture, Photography, Writing, Video art, Performance art, Education, Art critic
Works Performer/Audience/Mirror, Rock My Religion, Two-way Mirror Cylinder Inside Cube, Don't Trust Anyone Over 30, Yin/Yang
Two-Way Mirror Punched Steel Hedge Labyrinth. Family in a box, Minneapolis photo by Wendy Seltzer

Dan Graham (1942, Urbana, Illinois) is a conceptual artist now working out of New York City. He is an influential figure in the field of contemporary art, both a practitioner of conceptual art and an art critic and theorist. His art career began in 1964 when he moved to New York and opened the John Daniels Gallery. Graham’s artistic talents have wide variety. His artistic fields consist of film, video, performance, photography, architectural models, and glass and mirror structure. Graham especially focuses on the relationship between his artwork and the viewer in his pieces. Graham made a name for himself in the 1980’s as an architect of conceptual glass and mirrored pavilions.


[edit] Childhood and Early Career

Dan Graham was born March 31, in 1942 in Urbana, Illinois. When he was 3, Graham moved to Winfield Park, New Jersey. He then moved to Westfield, New Jersey when he was thirteen years old where he found inspiration for his series of minimalist photographs Homes for America (1967). Dan Graham is an American artist living and working in New York City. Dan Graham began his art career in 1964, at the age of 22, when he founded the John Daniels Gallery in New York. He worked there until 1965, when he started creating his own conceptual pieces. During his time at the gallery, he exhibited works by minimalist artists such as Carl André, Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd, Robert Smithson, and Dan Flavin.

His first solo show was held in 1969 at the same gallery in which he directed just 4 years earlier. In 1991, an exhibition of his pavilions and photographs was held at the Lisson Gallery in London. Another important exhibition featuring Graham include Public/Private, an exhibition that traveled to four different venues. The show, which included his pavilions, architectural photographs and models, performances, and video installations, had its opening in 1994 at the Moore College of Art and Design. In 2001, a retrospective was held covering his 35-year career. The museums holding the event included the Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville in Paris, Kroller-Muller Museum in Otterlo, Holland, and Kiasma Museum in Helsinki, Finland.

[edit] Artistic Overview

In the past thirty years, Dan Graham has proved himself to be an all-encompassing artist. His wide variety of work consists of performance art, installations, video, sculpture, and photography. Few of Graham’s works have been commissioned or exhibited in the United States. In fact, the only major work commissioned in the U.S. in the last decade was the Rooftop Urban Park Project, in which he designed the piece Two-Way Mirror Cylinder Inside Cube and Video Salon (1981-1991). Some other commissions in the U.S. are Yin/Yang at MIT,[2] the labyrinth at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden,[2] and at Middlebury College, and in Madison Square Park.

In addition to his visual works, he has published a large array of critical and speculative writing. Graham earliest works were photographs and prints of numerological sequences. His early works include a series of photographs, Homes for America (1967), and the prints Scheme (1965), Figurative (1965), and Site Effects/Common Drugs (1966). He then moved onto more conceptual pieces like the video Rock My Religion (1984) and Performer/Audience/Mirror (1975). His installations such as Public Space/Two Audiences (1976) or Yesterday/Today (1975) further inspired his move to the indoor and outdoor pavilions he most recently designs. His many conceptual pavilions including Two Way Mirror with Hedge Labyrinth (1989) and Two Way Mirror and Open Wood Screen Triangular Pavilion (1990) have increased his popularity as an artist.

Soon after he left the John Daniels Gallery, Dan Graham started a series of photographs which started in the sixties and continues into the present. These photographs question the relationship between public and private architecture and the ways in which each space affects behavior. Some of his first conceptual works dealt with different forms of printed artwork of numeric sequences. In 1969, Graham focused on performance and film that explored the social dynamic of the audience incorporated them in the work. Currently he is working on glass and mirrored pavilions that incorporate both the use of architectural space and integrate the spectator in the reflected surfaces of the structure. Throughout his entire career, Graham has explored the relationship of the audience with his artwork.

[edit] Influences

Writer Brian Wallis has said that Graham’s works “displayed a profound faith in the idea of the present, [he] sought to comprehend post-war American culture through imaginative new forms of analytical investigation, facto-graphic reportage, and quasi-scientific mappings of space/time relationships.” Grahams work has been influenced by the social change of the Civil Rights Movement, The Vietnam War, the Women’s Liberation Movement as well as many other cultural changes. These prolific events and changes in history affected the conceptual art and minimalist movements.

Minimalist art stripped art down to only its fundamental and bare essentials. Rarely were pictorial or illustrative imagery were seen in minimalist works. Minimalism focused on the experience the artwork created for the viewer. The artist purposefully disconnected himself from the artwork. Even in the face of a chaotic world, minimalism was a calm, cool, and stable art form. This minimalist aesthetic was seen not only in visual art but, throughout the art world in literature, music, architecture, and fashion. Dan Graham exhibited a predominately minimalist aesthetic in his earlier photographs and prints. His prints of numeric sequences, words, graphs, and graphics strongly reflect his minimalist qualities.

Graham’s later works have become very conceptual. Dan Graham has an extreme interest with interior and exterior space in the relation behavior of the viewer when the anticipated boundaries are changed. Dan Graham has not only been a participant in, but has also been a developer in the conceptual art movement. Conceptual art is more about the idea behind the work and the process of creating the work than the actual finished product itself. The concepts behind Dan Graham’s artworks engage the viewer in the artwork. His artworks explore architecture and space and the effect it has on the viewer.

[edit] Photography

In 1965 Graham’s began shooting color photographs for his series Homes For America. All the photographs taken were of single-family homes around the American suburbs. The photo series was inspired by his Homes for America was published in the magazine Art in America. The article is an assembly of texts including his photographs. The photographs were also chosen for the exhibition Projected Art, at the Finch College Museum of Art.

[edit] Pavilions

Dan Graham’s artworks are said to blur the line between sculpture and architecture. His popularity has grown since he started the pavilions and he has received commissions all over the world. His pavilions are steel and glass sculptures which create a different space which disorients the viewer from his or her usual surroundings or knowledge of space. The MIT Art Center calls his pavilions rigorously conceptual, uniquely beautiful, and insistently public. The pavilions create a unique experience for the viewer. His pavilions are created for the public experience. His pavilions combine architecture and art. Dan Graham’s pavilion works have been compared to Ryue Nishizawa and Kazuyo Sjima’s work on the Kanazawa Museum. The glass wall of the structure reflects and distorts light much like Grahams sculptures. The layered, but simplistic quality is said to be very much alike Grahams. The structures are similar in their study of space and light.

The Lisson Gallery in London has been home to many of Dan Graham’s works. The Greek Meander Pavilion, Two Way Mirror with Lattice and Vines Labyrinth, Triangular Pavilion with Circular Cut-Out Variation C, and the Two Way Mirror and Hedge Labyrinth are among the collection. These works collectively summarize his career as a sculptural artist. Wooden lattice, mirror, glass, and steel are the materials most commonly used in his work.

In 1981, Dan Graham started work on a decade long project in New York City. The work Two-Way Mirror Cylinder Inside Cube and Video Salon was part of the Rooftop Urban Park Project. Graham worked on the piece in collaboration with architects Mojdeh Baratloo and Clifton Balch. This transparent and reflective pavilion transformed the roof of 548 West 22nd Street into a rooftop park. The pavilion captures the surrounding landscape and changes of light creating an intense visual effect with the sky. The Two-Way Mirror Cylinder Inside Cube and Video Salon has become one of his most well-known works throughout his art career.

The Children’s Pavilion (1989) is a very conceptual piece relating to the children of the nation. Even after numerous commissions in Europe, The Children’s Pavilion was actually the first piece he was commissioned to do in the United States. The piece is public building by Dan Graham and Jeff Wall. The Children’s Pavilion is a circular shaped room with an oculus that is both transparent and reflective at the top. Nine circular framed photographs of children belonging to many nationalities and ethnic backgrounds surround the room. The Children’s Pavilion is designed so the viewers on the outside of the building could look inside as well.

[edit] Film

Dan Graham exploration of video has proved to have interesting results. In 1970 he created a video titled Roll. Graham created a video in 1972 entitled Past Future Split Attention, which documented a project in which he psychologically reconstructed space and time. In 1974, he created an installation with a series of videos called Time Delay Room. Graham created the video Performance/Audience/Mirror in 1975. The video demonstrated the relationship between the performer and the audience and subjectivity versus objectivity. He made the more popular video Rock My Religion in 1982. In 1983, he made a video called Minor Threat documenting a rock band. His love for video was taken further when he started adding videos in installations. He incorporated mirrors, windows, surveillance cameras and video projectors in them.

The video Rock My Religion (1984) explores rock music as an art form and relates it to the development of the Shaker religion in America. The low quality image of the video is said to enhance the ideas within it. The video relates Rock and Roll to contemporary culture and the Shaker religion. It finds a way to draw a parallel between a Shaker family and the off balance family of rock. He observes the changes in beliefs and superstitions in the Shaker religion since the 1700’s. (http://www.ubu.com/film/graham_rock.html)

Another video of Grahams entitled Performer/Audience/Mirror explains the relationship between the audience and the performer. He demonstrates the relationship between subjectivity and objectivity. Graham stands in front of a mirrored wall facing the audience. He describes the audience’s actions to them then turns to face his reflection in the mirror. This subjective and then objective perception is part of what makes Dan Graham’s artwork one of a kind. (http://www.ubu.com/film/graham_performer.html)

[edit] Writings

Dan Graham has made major contributions through his writing. He works as an art critic, writing revealing articles about fellow artists. He has also contributed inquisitorial ads in newspapers and writings in magazines. He has also written books along with other writers. Many of the books are a collection of essays about his works. The most read include Two Way Mirror Power: Selected Writings by Dan Graham on His Art, Half Square Half Crazy, and Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll since 1967.

[edit] Select Artworks

  • Homes for America, 1967, John Gibson
  • Yesterday/Today, 1975, Stedelijk Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven
  • Back-Yard New Housing Project, 1978, Lisson Gallery
  • Two Way Mirror with Hedge Labyrinth, 1989, Lisson Gallery
  • Pavilion Influenced by Moon Windows, 1989
  • Triangular Pavilion with Circular Cut-Out Variation C, 1989-2000, Lisson Gallery Swimming Pool/Fish Pond, 1997, Patrick Painter Editions
  • Two Way Mirror with Lattice with Vines Labyrinth, 1998, Lisson Gallery
  • Girls Make-Up Room, 1998-2000, Hauser & Wirth Zürich London
  • Greek Meander Pavilion, Open, 2001, Lisson Gallery
  • Bisected Triangle, Interior Curve, Madison Square Park, 2002

[edit] Solo Exhibitions

  • 2009, Dan Graham: Beyond, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (Retrospective)
  • 2001, Dan Graham Œuvres, 1965-2000, Musée d'art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris
  • 2000, Dan Graham: Children's Day Care Center, CD-Rom, Cartoon, and Computer Screen Library Project, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York
  • 1999, Dan Graham, Architekturmodell, Kunst-Werke Berlin, Berlin
  • 1997, Dan Graham, The Suburban City, Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz
  • 1995, Dan Graham, Video/Architecture/Performance, EA-Generali-Foundation, Vienna
  • 1994, Dan Graham: Public/Private, Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia; List Visual Arts Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA; Toronto, LACE - Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles
  • 1991, Pavilion Sculptures & Photographs, Lisson Gallery, London
  • 1986,
 Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York
  • 1981, 
P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center / Institute for Art and Urban Resources, Long Island City, New York
  • 1977,
 Stedelijk Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven

[edit] Notes

[edit] Bibliography

  • Alberro, Alexander and Graham, Dan Dan Graham - Models to Projects (Marian Goodman Gallery 1998) ISBN 0-944219-13-6
  • Alberro, Alexander, Dan Graham, and Friedrich W. Heubach. "Dan Graham: Half Square Half Crazy". Barcelona: Poligrafa, Ediciones, S.a., 2001.
  • Charre, Alain, Marc Perelman, and Marie-Paule Macdonald. "Dan Graham." Paris: Editions Dis Voir, 1995.
  • Francis, Mark, Beatriz Colomina, Birgit Pelzer, and Dan Graham. "Dan Graham." New York City: Phaidon P, Inc., 2001.
  • Graham, Dan Dan Graham Interviews, Dan Graham; (Hatje Cantz 1995) ISBN 3-89322-318-5
  • Graham, Dan, Adachiara Zevi, Brian Hatton, and Mark Pimlott. "Dan Graham: Architecture." London: Architectural Association, 1997.
  • Graham, Dan, and Adachiara Zevi. "Dan Graham: Half Square Half Crazy". New York City: Charta, 2005.
  • Graham, Dan, and Brian Wallis. "Rock My Religion: Writings and Projects" 1965-1990. Boston: MIT P, 1994.
  • Graham, Dan. "Two-Way Mirror Power." Boston: MIT P, 1999.
  • Graham, Dan, Two-Way Mirror Power: Selected Writings by Dan Graham on His Art, (MIT Press 1999) ISBN 0-262-57130-7
  • Graham, Dan, Dan Graham: Catalogue Raisonné, (Richter Verlag 2001) ISBN 3-933807-31-X
  • Graham, Dan, Valle, Pietro, Zevi, Adachiara, Dan Graham: Half Square Half Crazy (Charta 2005) ISBN 88-8158-520-0
  • Jodidio, Philip. "Architecture: Art." New York: Prestel. 86-87.
  • Smith, Matt "Dan Graham's Rock My Religion." The Nonnus Blog. 26 Mar. 2008 <http://nonnus.typepad.com/nonnus/2007/12/dan-grahams-roc.html>.
  • Wallis, Brian, Rock My Religion: Writings and Projects 1965-1990 by Dan Graham, (MIT Press 1994) ISBN 0-262-57106-4

[edit] External links

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