the nominal three (to William of Ockham), 1963
cool white fluorescent light
fluorescent bars: 243.8 cm installed vertically
National Gallery of Canada (no. 15811)
© Estate of Dan Flavin / SODRAC (2013)
Dan Flavin is among the artists most closely associated with minimalism, better understood as a field of approaches to abstraction arising in the early 1960s rather than a unified art movement. Minimal art's often reductive, repeated and monochromatic forms were employed by a number of artists, including Carl Andre, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris and Anne Truitt.
In 1963 Flavin arrived at his distinctive medium, consisting of arrangements of white or coloured fluorescent tubes and the light and shadows they create, and he explored its possibilities throughout his life. In this, perhaps his most iconic work, Flavin uses the minimum number of ordinary light fixtures to establish a series. The title pays tribute to William of Ockham, a fourteenth-century English philosopher who developed the philosophical principle still known as "Ockham's Razor" based on his maxim, "it is vain to do with more what can be done with fewer".