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Light & Art: source of life energy

Light has always been a source of life and energy, as well as inspiration for humankind. As the field of lighting developed, creative people used it in their artworks and projects. Many interesting works of art, exhibitions, and installations related to light and lighting were realized not only in recent years but also at the beginning of the last century.

Great masters of light and light installations

Around 1952, Yves Klein began to paint monochrome paintings and by 1958, his work was carried out mainly in the “International Klein Blue.” In that last year, he staged his first “intangible” exhibition. It was an empty room at the Iris Clert Gallery in Paris, where he showed “the presence of the sensuality of fine art in the image of” prima materia “. Three years later, he created his first fiery picture, using a powerful gas burner, which he used as a “brush” on a cardboard surface, and it dissolved into smoke.


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In the 1920s and 1930s, the image was transformed from color technology to lighting technology. It reached its peak by the 50s and 60s and expressed itself in completely new forms of art, such as luminous-kinetic sculptures, light ballet, glass kaleidoscopes, lightboxes, and neon objects.

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Among the artists who are engaged in new types of art are Nicolas Schoffer, Otto Piene, Adolf Luther, Hugo Demarco, Marc Adrian, Getulio Albiani, Martha Boto, ZERO group, Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV) group, Julio Le Parc , Francois Morellet and including Dan Flamin.

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Gianni Colombo - work with space
Gianni Colombo – Work With Space

The spread of light and its modulation has led contemporary creative masters to work with space – the artistic lighting of rooms and various spaces. Among them, Gianni Colombo (1937–1993) and James Turell (1943) can be especially distinguished.

Thanks to Dan Flavin (1933–1996), light paintings increased to the size of light spaces. In these works, and some others, LEDs and light panels were used, for Nill Bell (until 1928), also Jenny Holzer (until 1950) and others, artificial light replaced the conceptual format of the pictures on the panel.


Jenny Holzer - Light Panels
Jenny Holzer – Light Panels

This “immateriality” eventually became material pictures. Around the 1960s, the ZERO movement with Gunter Uecker, Heinz Mack, Otto Piene, and other artists such as Hermann Goepfert made the light the central and main theme of their work (art), with reflective reliefs, metal elements in paintings and light mechanisms.

light paintings and installations
Light Paintings and Installations

In 1963, Flavin began working with fluorescent lamps (but not with neon). While the lightboxes contained light in them, it was free in them and able to transform space.

SEE ALSO: Behind the Scenes – An art gallery of lighting

Light as Art: Corners, Barriers and Corridors - Dan Flavin


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All four walls, floor, and ceiling became the surfaces of a single picture. Real light itself became art.


White Paintings - Robert Rauschenberg
White Paintings – Robert Rauschenberg

Let it be lined with white light for dematerialization through a white manifesto from Kazimir Malevich (1879–1935) to Fontana. White paintings by Robert Rauschenberg (1925–2008), Manzoni and others also played a crucial role. With white paintings, the field of painting and similar trends began to mix with the optical effect of Hanzfeld or the “field of everything.” This concept inspired Turelli to redefine time and space: in the 1980s, he called his empirical light fields the spaces of “Ganzfeld Pieces”.

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