More and more artists these days are getting their name in lights, by making similarly coruscating works; Dan Flavin, Jung Lee and Tracey Emin are among the luminaries who have famously illuminated their artwork using neon.
To celebrate the launch of our new neon coloured products at Cass Art, we check out those who have lit the neon path in the contemporary art world.
The godfather of neon, Flavin's minimalist constructions first brought the medium of neon to art galleries in the 1960s. His job at the end of the previous decade helped to bring him into contact with fellow minimalists such as Robert Ryman and Sol LeWitt, who themselves had made art installations that inspired him. Flavin was a lift operator and guard at the Museum of Modern Art, and his works live on through installations such as Rhine-Elbe Science Park’s glass-enclosed arcade in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.
This controversial artist’s confessional outpourings found the light when she was bitten by the neon bug in 2012. North Miami staged her You Loved Me Like A Distant Star in 2012, her famous sentence illuminated in turquoise neon and bordered with a pink heart. The following year her lovesick phrases found the oxygen of neon in as public a place as New York’s Times Square, where the midnight hour saw them decorate billboards.
The Korean creative was ploughing a similarly romantic furrow in the years before Emin. Her staged photographs of neon words in landscapes such as forests and snow-strewn fields conjure up an amorous and unsettling intensity. Sometimes her messages can be as concise as one or two words, such as ‘THE END’ on a seaside hillscape in 2010 or ‘WHY?’, set among trees in the same year.
The London-born multimedia artist with Asian roots calls his love affair with fluorescent light almost “spiritual”. One of the world’s foremost contemporary exponents of the medium, Dawood’s focus is to try and infuse the most meaning possible in the simplest of designs. Prominent among his works is Triple Negation Chandelier (2008), which brought a fresh subtlety to the genre.
Walking into Irwin’s 2007 installation Light And Space is to walk into a glistening ice cave. Supple works such as this prove that neon doesn't have to be loud and garish, but sparkling, calm and serene.
The Chilean creative had an unusual ‘eureka!’ moment when it came to working in neon. While studying at art school, he became fascinated with observing albino people walking the streets with their powerful insensitivity to all things light. His often fear-laced pieces invite viewers to become lost in a seeming infinite space.
Image 1 - A member of the public views a major installation by American artist Dan Flavin at the Hayward Gallery, London. Cathal McNaughton/PA
Image 2-7 - Pinterest
Dan Flavin, Untitled (To Jan and Ron Greenberg), 1972-73
Tracey Emin, I Can See Your Smile
Jung Lee, I Dream Of You, 2012
Shezad Dawood, Until The End of the World
Robert Irwin, Light and Space, 2007
Burden (Lotte World Tower), Ivan Navarro