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Remembering Dan Graham

February 23, 2022

Remembering Dan Graham

The great artist Dan Graham left us at 79 years old on February 19, 2022. His work, which he described as “half-way between art and architecture,” subverted the language and materials of corporate architecture. Experimenting with the translucent and reflective properties of glass, he created complex, playful, and often unexpected spatial encounters for visitors activating his pavilions.

In 2000, Massachusetts Institute of Technology invited Dan to make an installation for our new Simmons Hall dormitory as part of the Percent for Art initiative. He created Yin/Yang Pavilion, a “reflective space” for students and visitors. Together we wrote the following:

In the central void or porch of the building, doors give onto a charcoal rubber paved terrace. Here an eleven-foot by seven foot three-dimensional yin yang with white gravel on one side and shallow water on the other provide phenomena of reflections due to the two-way mirror glass. For meetings, nine wood slatted garden chairs surround the piece. Constructed of sandblasted stainless steel, a velvety matte dark grey, the piece will need no maintenance. We believe it will be a quiet but socializing porch in the open air.

Dan, whom I had known for several years before working together, had a great knowledge of architecture and his strong, opinionated remarks could knock you down. He was an amazing self-made artist and intellectual. Dan didn’t have an academic background, but developed his intuitive connections to everyday life through his art and writing. The innate wisdom of his work is in its immediacy and openness – he will be sorely missed.

– Steven Holl


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