For fifty years, Dan Graham has traced the symbiosis between architectural environments and their inhabitants. With a practice that encompasses curating, writing, performance, installation, video, photography and architecture, his analytical bent first came to attention with Homes for America (1966–67), a sequence of photos of suburban development in New Jersey, accompanied by a text charting the economics of land use and the obsolescence of architecture and craftsmanship. Graham’s critical engagement manifests most alluringly in the glass and mirrored pavilions, which he has designed since the late 1970s and which have been realised in sites all over the world. These instruments of reflection – visual and cognitive – highlight the voyeuristic elements of design in the built world; poised between sculpture and architecture, they glean a sparseness from 1960s Minimalism, redolent of Grahams’s emergence in New York in the 1960s alongside Sol Le Witt, Donald Judd and Robert Smithson. Graham himself has described his work and its various manifestations as ‘geometric forms inhabited and activated by the presence of the viewer, [producing] a sense of uneasiness and psychological alienation through a constant play between feelings of inclusion and exclusion.’ The pavilions draw attention to buildings as instruments of expression, psychological strongholds, markers of social change and prisms through which we view others and ourselves.
Dan Graham was born in Urbana, Illinois in 1942 and lives and works in New York. He has had retrospective exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2009), Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Turin (2006), Museu Serralves, Porto, (2001), Museum of Modern Art, Oxford (1997), Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, (1993), Kunsthalle Berne (1983) and the Renaissance Society, University of Chicago (1981). He has participated in documenta 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10 (1972, 1977, 1982, 1992, 1997). Among numerous awards he received the Coutts Contemporary Art Foundation Award, Zurich (1992), the French Vermeil Medal, Paris (2001) and was honoured by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York in 2010.