Minimalism and angles at Seoul’s Lotte Museum of Art

Yet another testament to the rapidly growing contemporary art scene in Asia, the Lotte Museum of Art opened in January in Seoul.  Located in a quiet corridor of the Lotte World Tower – part of the massive Lotte World recreational complex – the opening exhibit by the late American artist Dan Flavin made ample use of the minimalist space.


Although it boasts major corporate backing, the institution doesn’t seem to mind poking fun at itself, with quotes by the artist himself sprinkled throughout the Dan Flavin, Light: 1963-1974 retrospective scoffing at the very notion of minimalism, puncutated by these remarks from 1967:

“I find the invitation to participate in your untitled ‘minimal art’ exhibition objectionable. I do not enjoy the designation of my proposal as that of some dubious, facetious, epithetical, proto-historic ‘movement.'”



Flavin’s exhibition in Seoul spans the first 11 years since his decision to exclusively use fluorescent lighting in his installations.  The 14 works in Dan Flavin, Light: 1963-1974, according to introductory notes by the museum, reflect “upon the standardized and industrialized society, breaking the taboo of what was considered art.”


The vibrant quality of Flavin’s light installations play off the otherwise dark and moody rooms of the secluded space designed by architect Cho Byoungsoo.  The fluorescent lights comprise just a part of the whole sum, contrasting with angles and shadows in every nook and cranny.  It is this geometrical approach that Flavin, who passed away in 1996, was well aware of throughout his career.  In another quote on display, the artist stated, “A piece of wall can be visually disintegrated from the whole into a separate triangle by plunging a diagonal of light from edge to edge on the wall; that is, side to floor, for instance.”

Dan Flavin, Light: 1963-1974 remains on display until Apr. 8, and will be followed by Alex Katz: Models and Dancers from Apr. 25 to July 23. Ticket prices range from KRW 7,000 to 13,000, and can be purchased online at

Photos: Lotte Museum of Art, Seoul
all photos by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine