Dan Flavin’s tubes aren’t going to last forever

I fell in love with Dan Flavin‘’s work back in 2013, during my first stay in London. The Tate Modern had a room dedicated to him at the time.


How could something make you feel so serene, meditative, peaceful–something that’s made of fluorescent tubes? Is there something about light that makes things look ethereal? I even remember sketching the works to see if there were any patterns. But they were all just a few types of ordinary fluorescent tubes put together. But they were beautiful.


Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo, 2017
“Monument” for V. Tatlin (1964-65) at Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo, 2017
Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo, 2017
Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo, 2017

Fast forward to 2017 and Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo did a Dan Flavin show. And I had a question. What happens when the tubes expire someday?

2017年、エスパス ルイ・ヴィトン東京のダン・フレイヴィン展で、この蛍光灯が切れたらどうなるのか聞いてみた。

I asked a staff member there, who told me that in fact, yes, they will expire someday in the future. According to what he’d heard, people who purchased the work received a couple of spare tubes, which I guess was part of the idea because they were mundane objects at the time. Now, ironically, those tubes are becoming harder to find. So a body of work that most likely raised questions about mass production is now something akin to a candle. It is literally burning away its finite resources, as long as it is being exhibited.


And so the works now possess a unique quality of being static, yet finite. Unlike traditional paintings and sculptures. I found this to be an interesting example of how context changes the meaning of things.

Flavin probably didn’t plan this…or did he?