Dan Flavin, March 3, 1970

Friday, May 18, 2012 - 09:00 AM

A woman inspects the artwork by American artist Dan Flavin (1933-1996) in The Hayward Gallery in London, 18 January 2006. (ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

American artist Dan Flavin is well known for his often temporary, site-specific installations composed of fluorescent light tubes. In this 1970 episode of Views on Art, host Ruth Bowman interviews the artist about his work and the roles played by critics, museums and galleries.

While Bowman does her best to get the artist to talk about himself and his own work, it's clear from the outset that he had a lot more to say about the art world and the system in which it functions. Flavin is outspoken about art critics, museums, and galleries and contends that the mediating art critic only serves to further separate people from the art itself.

In this interview, he promotes the idea that museums should have a more direct connection with their living artists, and he is forthright in his critique of institutions, like the Museum of Modern Art, for not doing so. Flavin offers his critique not only of established institutions, but of artists as well. He accuses the Art Worker’s Coalition (AWC), for example, of being too disparate and political. The AWC was an organization of artists, museum staff, and critics whose primary aim was to create more open, inclusive museums in New York City.

Flavin also discusses his reluctant relationship with the gallery system. He admits to being much more critical of galleries in the past, but now sees them as a necessary evil. “There are some restrictions. I recognize it [in] commercially committing yourself, but I’m not choking on it,” he quips. Suffice it to say, Flavin has strong opinions about various players in the art world and is not afraid to voice them, and as Ruth Bowman concludes: “I’m glad you came here to irritate and excite us and even give us some satisfaction.”


More in:

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


About NYPR Archives & Preservation

Mission Statement: The New York Public Radio Archives supports the mission and goals of WNYC and WQXR by honoring the broadcast heritage of the radio stations and preserving their organizational and programming legacy for future generations of public radio listeners. The Archives will collect, organize, document, showcase and make available for production all original work generated by and produced in association with WNYC and WQXR Radio.

The NYPR Archives serves the stations staff and producers by providing them with digital copies of our broadcast material spanning WNYC and WQXR's respective 90 and 77 year histories.  We also catalog, preserve and digitize, provide reference services, store, and acquire WNYC and WQXR broadcast material (originals and copies) missing from the collection. This repatriation effort has been aided by dozens of former WNYC and WQXR staff as well as a number of key institutions. Additionally, our collecting over the last ten years goes beyond sound and includes photos, publicity materials, program guides, microphones, coffee mugs, buttons and other ephemera. We've left no stone unturned in our pursuit of these artifacts. The History Notes is a showcase for many of these non-broadcast items in our collection. 

In fact, if you’ve got that vintage WNYC or WQXR knick-knack, gee-gaw, or maybe a photo of someone in front of our mic, an old program guide or vintage piece of remote equipment and would like to donate it to us, or provide a copy of the item to us, write to Andy Lanset at   

The Archives and Preservation series was created to bring together the leading NYPR Archives related, created, or sourced content material at


Supported by