Dan Flavin


2 July – 9 October 2022

In 1974, Yvon Lambert held an exhibition of Dan Flavin’s work in his Paris gallery on the rue de  l’Échaudé, in collaboration with the artist. The show quite naturally led to a cycle of  exhibitions of new American and European avant-garde artists, placing Yvon Lambert at the forefront among those championing contemporary artists. From Lawrence Weiner to Sol LeWitt  via Robert Barry, Brice Marden, On Kawara, Christo, Dennis Oppenheim, Carl Andre, Daniel  Buren, Jan Dibbets, Niele Toroni, Giulio Paolini, Marcel Broodthaers, Douglas Huebler, and Robert  Ryman—the most innovative artists of the 1960s and ’70s worked with the Parisian dealer and are present today in Avignon in the museum that has been home to his collection since 2000. 

Extensive correspondence between the collector and the American artist, held in the archives of the Galerie Yvon Lambert, provides documentation of the 1974 exhibition and the relationship between the two men at the time. That same year, as a sign of friendship, Dan Flavin presented Yvon Lambert with three diagrams for the realization of a lightwork he wished to dedicate to him: (for Yvon Lambert), 1974. The drawings were unfortunately lost by the gallerist’s friend, who was sent to New York to show them to Flavin again so he could review them before creating the lightwork. The drawings never resurfaced. Years later, however, the drawings did reappear in the form of documentary photographs held by the Musée National d’Art Moderne (Paris) that, in the 1970s, would regularly commission a photographer to document Parisian gallery shows, ensuring that all the artworks be documented and archived. 

The exhibition planned for the summer of 2022 aims to reactivate this memory and complete the story and the collaboration between the two men through the organisation, in Avignon, of an exhibition of a selection of emblematic artworks by the artist. If Dan Flavin had not died four years before the Collection Lambert took up residence in the Papal City, there is no doubt that he would have been invited, and would certainly have stayed, as have all the artists whose work has been championed by Yvon Lambert. Artists including Sol Lewitt, On Kawara, Lawrence Weiner, Brice Marden, Robert Barry, Carl Andre, Cy Twombly, and Giulio Paolini, among others, many of whom have spent time working at the Collection, sometimes producing specific artworks. 

We intend to organise the exhibition around artworks that Dan Flavin dedicated to artist friends who worked alongside him in the aesthetic revolution of the 1960s and ’70s, or to earlier artists that he has paid homage to, showing their resilience to the test of time.  

Whether Flavin’s titles refer to Vladimir Tatlin, Josef Albers, Henri Matisse, Alexander ‘Sandy’  Calder, Ad Reinhardt, Barnett Newman, Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly, David Smith, Sol LeWitt, or Donald Judd—artists that Yvon Lambert also has a special affection for—these pieces form, above all, a series of epiphanies setting up the possibility for a thought-provoking  experience of art and the place in which it is shown, in the here and now. 

While intricately conveying the respect and affection that the two men had for the artists of their time, for those whose work has redirected the course of art history since the emergence of modernity, the exhibition also shows how Dan Flavin’s work opens new horizons in the way  art is experienced, conceived, created, and inscribed into new sensory situations on offer to those who experience them firsthand. And how, since the celebrated the diagonal of May 25,  1963 (to Constantin Brancusi), these arrangements of fluorescent lights—that the artist explains “is what it is and it ain’t nothing else”—invent a multitude of new situations where the relationship to art is redefined or tested, between dissolution and resolution. As such, the installation of works by Dan Flavin in the hotel de Montfaucon (Collection  Lambert) will offer, for the duration of the exhibition, an unprecedented extension of the reflections of other artists of the same generation, and whose work is on exhibit in the permanent collection, from Robert Ryman to Donald Judd, and from Lawrence Weiner to Sol LeWitt.

Curator : Stéphane Ibars

With the great support of the artist’s Estate, Gallery David Zwirner (NY)

and SNEF group