For fifty years, Dan Graham traced the symbiosis between architectural environments and their inhabitants. With a practice that encompassed 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, USA, 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 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 Graham’s emergence in New York in the 1960s alongside Sol Le Witt, Donald Judd and Robert Smithson. Graham himself 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.’ Considered himself first and foremost a writer-artist, Graham's writings and periodicals from the 1960s, including Figurative (1965) and Schema (1966), include published essays and reviews on everything from rock music and television culture to Dean Martin and Dwight D. Eisenhower's painting. These publications, predating Conceptual art, were a rejection of the limits of the art gallery’s ‘white cube’ format and an embrace of the ubiquity and disposable nature of monthly periodicals.
Dan Graham was born in Urbana, Illinois, USA in 1942 and died in New York, New York, USA in 2022. He had solo exhibitions at Sirius Arts Centre, County Cork, Ireland (2018); the Red Brick Museum, Beijing, China (2017); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb, Croatia (2017); The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH, USA (2016); Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH, USA (2016); MAMO, Marseille, France (2015); ETH Zurich, Switzerland (2015); Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK (2014); The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2014); Kunstmuseum Sankt Gallen, St Gallen, Switzerland (2011); Center for Contemporary Art, Kitakyushu, Japan (2010); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA, USA (2009); Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Turin, Italy (2006); Museu Serralves, Porto, Portugal (2001); Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, UK (1997); Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands (1993); Kunsthalle Berne, Bern, Switzerland (1983); and the Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA (1981). He participated in dOCUMENTA 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10, Kassel, Germany (1972, 1977, 1982, 1992, 1997) and showed work at the Venice Biennale, Italy (1976, 2003, 2005). Among numerous awards he received the Coutts Contemporary Art Foundation Award, Zurich, Switzerland (1992), the French Vermeil Medal, Paris, France (2001) and was honoured by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, USA in 2010.