Friday, March 23, 2012

Dan Graham, a conceptual artist

Daniel also known as Dan Graham was born in 1942 in Urbana, Illinois. After graduating from high school he did not pursue higher education. In 1964 - when he was only 22 - he opened his first art gallery in New York, called John Daniels Gallery. A year later he began developing his first conceptual works. He is well-known in different artistic fields such as photography, writing, film-making and architecture. He is also famous for making mirror and glass structures. 
His pieces of work are influenced by the political, social and cultural context of his time. The first period of his life was devoted to speculative and critical writing. Some of his creations (photographs, writings…) were published in magazines (for example Schema, 1966).

In addition to his prints, he extended his artistic career to visual work (movies, sculptures…) between 1969 and 1978. With his movies, he tries to make the audience aware of the way they watch a movie (Public Space/Two Audiences, 1976). 
Since the 1980s, the popularity of Graham has increased with the creation of “Pavilions”. This installation consists of glass and steel sculptures, which distort the spectator’s usual way of seeing by creating a different view of space.
There is an original and complex relationship between social reality and the art product
ion of Graham’s work due to different sources as various as Ronald Reagan and the Sex Pistols… Two major pieces of art of Dan Graham are Rock My Religion and Two-way Mirror cylinder Inside cube and video salon.

Firstly, there is Rock my Religion, which is both a movie and a book.
Graham worked on
it from 1979 to 1983 and collected eighteen of his essays for this book, describing the different periods of his artistic career.
 Being inspired by this theme, he directed in 1984 the movie of the same name in which he illustrated the relation between rock music and religion in contemporary culture. Religion is represented by the Shakers (i.e. a religious group in the US that lives in a community in a very simple way and does not marry or have partners, from OALD). This group of teenagers typically practices trance dances although in this case Dan examines the development of rock music within the suburban milieu. The movie includes some personalities, such as The Rolling Stones or James Dean…

Secondly, he also realized another interesting short film, called Two-way mirror cylinder Inside cube and video salon. This composition is part of an architectural project. The pavilion is a representation of the urban environment analyzed by Graham. Originally, the name was Two-way mirror cylinder Inside cube but it has changed into the current name as a consequence of the film. The purpose of the structure is to make people conscious of themselves as a body. How does it work? People go inside the cube and with the help of the glass walls they see a reflection of themselves. Dan Graham is a conceptual artist who works in the main purpose of analyzing and understanding the social and urban environment. He is best known for these two pieces of art all around the world. Today he is still living in New York.

Laura Bouchat and Céline Van Gysel

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