Lisson Gallery

Remembering Dan Graham

9 March 2022

Mr. Graham’s entry into the art world was almost accidental. A voracious reader and snapshot photographer but an indifferent student, he moved to New York after finishing high school and, in 1964, founded the John Daniels Gallery on Manhattan’s Upper East Side with two friends.

“I was what they call a slacker,” he recalled in an Interview magazine article by the artist Michael Smith in 2017. “I had no job, and I had two friends who wanted to social climb because they were reading Esquire magazine, and a gallery looked like a cool place to social climb.”

The gallery lasted less than a year, without sales. But before it closed, it had shown Dan Flavin and Donald Judd, given Sol LeWitt his first solo show, and introduced Mr. Graham — who had until then been more interested in science fiction and philosophy — into the very heart of the New York art scene.

When he started making art himself, he eschewed conventional mediums, submitting text pieces and photo spreads to magazines instead. This, he would suggest, was a way of contesting the notion of artistic value — his art would be disposable. Later touchstones included “Lax/Relax,” a spoken word performance inspired by Reichian therapy, and “Rock My Religion,” a careening, rough-edged video documentary that connects 18th-century Shaker circle dancing to hard-core punk while psychoanalyzing the hippie movement.

“He’s deeply into astrology,” Mr. Smith wrote in the Interview article, nodding to the difficulty of summing up a practice, and a personality, defined by its frenetic rush of mental associations. “He’s an Aries, indicating spontaneity. He’s also into clichés, architecture, music, art, puppets, mixtapes, and TV comedy.”

In the end, Mr. Graham found an enormous amount of success for a self-described slacker. He had a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2009, and his “Rooftop Urban Park Project,” a multipart pavilion overshadowed by wooden water tanks, sat on top of the Dia Foundation’s building in Lower Manhattan throughout the 1990s.

Read the full article by Will Heinrich in The New York Times here.

Accounts of the life of Dan Graham have been written in publications worldwide, including:

The Guardian
Dan Graham obituary

Dan Graham (1942-2022)

Dan Graham, Conceptual Artist Who bent Time and Space, Dies at 79

Artnet news
The Visionary Artist Dan Graham, Who Was Known for His Glass Pavilions and Astrological Prowess, Has Died at 79

The Art Newspaper
Dan Graham, artist who defied categorisation and was best known for his architectural pavilions, has died, ahed 79

Dan Graham regarded himself as a rebel - and the art world could do with more of his attitude

Dan Graham, pioneer of conceptual art, 1942-2022

When Dan graham installed a pavilion in the heart of rationalist Como

Frieze Magazine
Remembering Dan Graham’s ‘Art of Life’

The Architect’s Newspaper
Artist, sculptor, and designer Dan Graham passes away at 79

Remembering the mind-bending art of Dan Graham (1942-2022)

A Parting Song from Dan Graham (1942-2022)

Dan Graham, 79

Le Monde
Dan Graham, artist and theorist, is dead

La Lista
Concept artist Dan Graham has died at the age of 79

Photograph: Dan Graham Second Performance at PS1 NY, 1977. © Dan Graham, Courtesy Lisson Gallery

Remembering Dan Graham
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