Dan Graham

Artist (1942 - 2022)

Regarded as one of the leading artists and theoreticians of postwar art, since the 1960s Dan Graham has been developing research to do with the status of the artwork, and how it is displayed and distributed. This versatile artist produces works which involve diverse fields: conceptual productions, experimental films, performances, photographs, contributions to magazines, installations in public places, housing structures, and critical writings. They all question the mechanisms of the work of art, and of perception, and re-think the status of the work and its relation to architecture. In 1964, aged 22, he opened an art gallery in New York. The works which he showed at that time all reverberated with the issue of institutional gallery art, and the gallery as institution. He rebuked artists for creating their works for the gallery space, and no longer out of “inner necessity”. In order to sidestep the restrictions of these exhibition venues, in 1965 he devised works designed to be published in magazines, first Schema (1966), and then Homes for America (1966-67). The exercise had its limitations, however, because “each work depends on the physical structure of the magazine and its content, its typography, and its advertisements”, and because, in order to exist, the works have to be accommodated by magazines. Between 1969 and 1975, by way of performance and video, Dan Graham embarked on a series of works challenging the perceptive experience. The spaces he created were organized as interplays or sets of mirrors to which were added cameras and monitors bouncing the image back to the viewer (Present Continuous Past(s), 1974; Two Viewing Rooms, 1975). This system would be re-used in the public place, in shop windows and in buildings, and would culminate, in 1977, with his first series of “pavilions”, sculptures made of glass and unsilvered mirrors where the spectator is similarly placed in the ambiguous position of the onlooker being looked at. Graham has written various critical texts, including Ma position. Écrits sur mes œuvres (1992) and Rock My Religion (1993).

Born in Urbana (Illinois, USA), Dan Graham lives and works in New York. His works, his writings and his teaching have made him a quintessential player in the art world: in 2001, he was given a very comprehensive retrospective at the Museu Serralves in Portugal and at the City of Paris Museum of Modern Art. Another such show would be organized in 2003 in Otterlo, Helsinki and Düsseldorf, Chiba and Fukuoka, and more recently, in 2009, at the Museum of Contemporary Art [MOCA] in Los Angeles. He took part in documenta V (1972), VI (1977), VII (1982), IX (1992) and X (1997). He has also been awarded several prizes including that of the Coutts Contemporary Art Foundation (1992). In 2001, he was given the Médaille de Vermeil by the City of Paris.

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