The minimalist Dan Flavin (1933–1996) revolutionized art in the 1960s by using light from standard fluorescent tubes as a sculptural medium, creating experiences of great beauty with items available in any hardware store. In 1990, Dominique de Menil approached the artist to create a permanent, site-specific installation on the southernmost point of the Menil’s campus.
Visitors are welcomed by two of Flavin’s sculptures before entering a 6,400-square-foot main room filled with alternating pink, yellow, green, and blue fluorescent tubes. A smaller gallery houses Flavin’s “monuments” for V. Tatlin, 1964–69, and on the exterior is a fluorescent fixture of two eight-foot green tubes.
Flavin completed the design of three distinct pieces for the site, one on the exterior and two inside, just days before his death. Executed in the artist’s signature sensuous but utilitarian medium of fluorescent-light tubes, the installation radiates an environment and atmosphere likened to both “carnival and cathedral” by The Boston Globe.
The 1930s building, once home to a grocery store and nightclub, is now known as Richmond Hall, referencing the main road that runs parallel to the entrance. The artist chose few alterations to the original structure.