Dan Graham, Architect of Diverting Art Pavilions, Dies Age 79
Graham was a pioneer of conceptual art, using text, performance, video, and installations to destabilise perceptions.
Dan Graham, Fun for Kids at my Work in a Park in Manhattan (2003). Ultrachrome Pigment print on Hahnemühle paper. 32.9 x 41.9 cm. Courtesy Parkett.
Artist Dan Graham died in New York on 19 February.
'His influence over the past half century as a writer, photographer, architect, sculptor, filmmaker, and performance artist is widely felt in the contemporary art world,' wrote his galleries Lisson, Marian Goodman, 303, and Regen Projects in a shared statement.
Graham was born in Urbana, Illinois, in 1942, and grew up in New Jersey.
He began his career exhibiting artists such as Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, and Robert Smithson at the John Daniels Gallery in New York, which he co-founded in 1964. (The gallery's name is an amalgam of Graham's first name and that of one of his two partners).
Graham initially saw himself as a writer, penning articles on art, rock music, and architecture. In Homes for America (1966), one of his most well-known essays, he argues against the uniformity of tract housing and by extension Minimalism, then at its height of popularity.
Text was also a major component of his early artworks, which established him as a pioneer of Conceptualism, though later in life he disavowed the term.
Graham's practice grew to include videos and performances such as Past Future Split Attention (1972), in which one person is tasked with predicting another's future behaviour, while the second recounts the other's past behaviour—a kind of mirroring that anticipated his later work.
'We all wanted to do everything,' Graham told Flash Art in 2014. 'This was the milieu of the 1960s in New York.'
From the late 1970s, Graham focused on public architectural installations, which he made using glass and two-way mirror walls set in wooden or steel frames. These were meant to alter the experience of space: to startle, confuse, and surprise.
Among his more curious architectural inventions is Swimming Pool/Fish Pond (1997), a design that allows bathers to swim with fish separated by a clear glass wall.
John Slyce, who interviewed Graham for Ocula Magazine, said in an Instagram post yesterday that Graham 'left akin the way he ended his phone calls. Ok, bye. Earlier than expected and characteristically abrupt.'
Graham's galleries said, 'his wit, generosity, and irascibility will be sorely missed by all who knew him.' —[O]