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 at Richmond Hall, then an annex exhibition space.
Just two days before his death in November 1996, Flavin completed his design. The artist’s studio completed the work posthumously. Executed in the artist’s signature sensuous but utilitarian medium of fluorescent-light tubes, the installation at Richmond Hall radiates an environment and atmosphere likened to both “carnival and cathedral” by The Boston Globe.
The building was constructed in 1930 as a grocery store, and the artist chose few alterations to the original structure. He designed three distinct pieces for the site, one on the exterior and two inside, and the Dan Flavin Installation at Richmond Hall opened in 1998. In the summer of 2003, the Menil converted a storage room into an exhibition space to house four earlier Flavin works, the “monuments” for V. Tatlin, 1964–69, acquired by the Menil Foundation in 1970.