icon IV (the pure land) (to David John Flavin 1933-1962), 1962, reconstructed 1969
white Formica with daylight fluorescent light
box: 113 x 113 x 28.3 cm; light fixture: 9.2 x 61 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 15903)
© Estate of Dan Flavin / SODRAC (2013)
One of Dan Flavin's earliest constructions with electric light, the original version of this work was destroyed following its exhibition at the Green Gallery, New York, in January 1963. This version was made for "fluorescent light", etc. "from Dan Flavin", an important survey exhibition organized by the National Gallery of Canada in September 1969.
Flavin made eight "icons" in total. Most of these works were dedicated to family, friends and historical persons, while two cite sacred sources: "via crucis" and "the blood of a martyr". Regarding these religious allusions, Flavin later commented: "My icons differ from a Byzantine Christ held in majesty; they are dumbanonymous and inglorious ... My icons do not raise up the blessed saviour in elaborate cathedrals. They are constructed concentrations celebrating barren rooms. They bring a limited light." Flavin dedicated "icon IV" to his twin brother, who died in 1962 while the work was being completed.