Dan Graham, Model for Swimming Pool / Fish Pond, 1997, Aluminium, acrylic sheet, decals, 21.8 x 106.7 cm.

The Theatre of Dan Graham from Early Performance to Pavilions

Dan Graham, Lax / Relax, 1969, Framed black and white photographs on mountboard, 80.7 x 102.7 cm.

Dan Graham, Interior Atrium Park Avenue Atrium, New York, New York, 1988, Unique Cibachrome print, 105 x 134.5 cm.

Dan Graham, Model for Portal, 1997, Two-way mirror glass, Aluminium, painted wood, 76 x 107 x 92 cm.


Lisson Gallery
52-54 Bell Street
+ 44 (0)20 7724 2739
Dan Graham: Theatre
April 1-May 9, 2009

In a major survey exhibition of work by American artist Dan Graham, the theme of theatre brings together works that illustrate Graham’s diverse practice throughout his career; from the early performances to photography and the influential pavilions, including his architectural drawings and models.

The exhibition presents photographic, video and audio documentation of seminal early performances such as Like, 1969, Lax / Relax, 1969-1995, and Past Future Split Attention, 1972. Theatre also feature architectural drawings and photographs that, across decades, have documented American vernacular suburban architecture. Architectural drawings and photographs accompany four of Graham’s models for pavilions, visionary works that bridge his interest and understanding of architecture, pop sculpture and visitor interaction and experience within the exhibition space. Two of the models on show were never realised, but maintain their visionary charge, conceptual clarity, and sculptural beauty: Model for Swimming Pool / Fish Pond, 1997 and Model for Portal, 1997. Model for Ying Yang Pavilion, 1991 and a new model for the Novartis Campus Pavilion, 2009, is accompanied by videos documenting the pavilions, installed in public settings.

The exhibition at Lisson Gallery coincides with Dan Graham’s first touring retrospective exhibition in the United States, which opened at LA MOCA, Los Angeles, on 15 February 2009. Dan Graham: Beyond travels to the Whitney Museum, New York (25 June-11 October) and then to the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (November 2009-Spring 2010). In addition, Graham’s Waterloo Sunset, 2002-03 is on permanent display at the Hayward Gallery. The pavilion, conceived as a "drop-in centre for children and old people and a space for viewing cartoons," is a place for social interaction, learning and fun.

Dan Graham was born March 31, 1942 in Urbana, Illinois. He currently lives in New York City. From 1964 to 1965 he was director of the John Daniels Gallery in New York, where he exhibited the work of then emerging artists Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd, Robert Smithson, Dan Flavin, and Carl Andre. His early diagrams and photo-text magazine pieces from the 1960s have become landmarks of Conceptual Art. From the 1960s his work started to include critical writing about art, architecture, and television culture, and performances exploring self-awareness, architectural space and group behavior. Incorporating mirrors, windows, surveillance cameras, and video projectors, Graham's installations from the 1970s addressed the social function of architecture and television in mediating public and private life. Since the 1980s, Graham has been working on an ongoing series of freestanding, sculptural objects called pavilions. As Cornelia H. Butler has written, "the pavilions are among the most rigorously conceptual, uniquely beautiful and insistently public works of postwar American sculpture."

Dan Graham, Past Future Split Attention, 1972.

Dan Graham, Model for Ying Yang Pavilion, 1991, MDF, perspex, 31.5 x 107 x 107 cm.


Dan Graham, Figurative, 1965, printed matter, collection Herbert, Gent, Belgium.

Dan Graham, still from Rock My Religion, 1982-84, single-channel video, 55:27 min., black and white and color, sound, image courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix
(EAI), New York.

Dan Graham: From Gestalt Psychology to Dean Martin and Beyond

Dan Graham, detail from Homes for America, 1966-67, 20 35-mm slides and carousel projector, dimensions variable, courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris.

Dan Graham, detail from Homes for America, 1966-67, 20 35-mm slides and carousel projector, dimensions variable, courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris.

Dan Graham, Figurative, 1965, printed matter, collection Herbert, Gent, Belgium.

Dan Graham performing Performer/Audience/Mirror at deAppel arts centre, Amsterdam, 1977, photo courtesy of the artist.


MOCA-Los Angeles
MOCA Grand Avenue
250 Grand Avenue
Los Angeles
Dan Graham: Beyond
February 15-May 25, 2009

Dan Graham (b. 1942), is considered one of the most significant and influential artists of the past four decades. Dan Graham: Beyond is the first comprehensive survey of Graham’s career mounted in a North American museum and examines his work in a photographs, film and video, architectural models, indoor and outdoor Pavilions, conceptual projects for magazine pages, drawings and prints, and writings. The exhibition is organized by MOCA and co-curated by Bennett Simpson, MOCA associate curator, and Chrissie Iles, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz curator at Whitney Museum of American Art..

Graham is a pioneering figures of the contemporary period. Possessed of deep humor and critical intelligence, his practice has been central to the development of art since the 1960s — from the rise of minimalism, conceptual art, and video and performance art, to explorations of architecture and the public sphere, to collaborations with musicians and the culture of rock and roll. Dan Graham: Beyond traces the evolution of his work across its major stages, while asserting motifs and concerns underlying his entire oeuvre: notably, the changing relationship of individual to society as filtered through American mass media and architecture at the end of the 20th century.

Graham was born in Urbana, Illinois, in 1942 and grew up in suburban New Jersey, a landscape that would serve as the inspiration for one of his earliest projects, Homes for America (1966-67). While riding the train back to his parents’ house from New York City, Graham took numerous photographs of the tract housing he passed through, using a Kodak Instamatic camera. Highlighting the repetition, mass production, and reductive logic of this landscape, these images echoed many of the central concerns of minimalism and led Graham to conceive of his work as a “structure of information.” Presented as a slide show as well as a magazine layout incorporating text, Homes for America is considered one of the seminal artworks of the 1960s. It announced a conception of art grounded in the everyday — in common architecture, in the language of advertising, and made with cheap, disposable tools for mass circulation — and it merged Graham’s interest in cultural commentary with art’s most advanced visual modes.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Graham was also at the forefront of a move by many cutting-edge artists into performance, film, and video works as a means of resituating the individual body within the political terms of conceptual art. In 1969, he commenced a series of time-based works, first in film and performance, later in video, that were inspired by the perceptual conditions — feedback, looping, delay — accompanying these new modes of art experience. The most culturally profound invention of the postwar era, television, had made an enormous impact on Graham’s generation, and at the heart of his new work was an investigation of the performer-audience relationship as it was filtered and distorted by the technology of the camera. In the dizzying, counter-intuitive vantages of films like Roll (1970) and Body Press (1970-72), Graham second-guessed the supposed objectivity of the camera by giving the device to actors who performed simple reductive movements (rolling across the floor, circling one another).

At the same time, Graham was closely involved with underground music, writing a series of free-ranging, yet historically rigorous speculations on bands like the Kinks, the Fall, and the Sex Pistols. The attempt by youth culture to shake off social control—to get free from the ideological norms of postwar life — rhymed easily with the artist’s own work in conceptual and media art. Rock My Religion (1982-84) is an hour-long “video-essay” in which Graham traced a continuum between the Shakers, the early-American religious sect that sought spiritual transcendence through collective dance and song, and hardcore punk music. In the latter’s cathartic noise and social rites, Graham located an ongoing, if latent, spirit of separatism that has demarcated American culture from its origins. With its bracing footage of Patti Smith, Sonic Youth, and Black Flag mingled with historical images of a rapt Ann Lee, founder of the Shaker religion, the work is a classic of underground video and one of the most penetrating commentaries on American youth culture ever made.

For more than 40 years, Dan Graham has been at the center of the most vital revolutions in American art and culture. His works stand on their own terms, but they also read as complex analyses layered with critical reference, anarchistic humor, and an appeal to the broader culture. Resonating with a general attempt of the 1960s to leave the safety of high culture by going into the field — whether that of suburban sprawl, urban planning, or rock and roll — Graham’s art invites the engaged participation of the viewer and, at its core, attempts a physical and philosophical intervention in the public realm.

Dan Graham has had numerous solo exhibitions throughout North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia, including Dan Graham (1998), Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, Spain; and Dan Graham: Works 1965-2000 (2001), a major retrospective organized by Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, Porto, Portugal. His group exhibitions include Information (1970), Museum of Modern Art, New York; Documenta (1972, 1977, 1982, and 1992), Kassel, Germany; Venice Biennale (1976 and 2003); Whitney Biennial (1997 and 2005), New York; 1965-1975: Reconsidering the Object of Art (1995), Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA); A Minimal Future?: Art as Object 1958-1968 (2004), MOCA; and Open Systems: Rethinking Art c.1970 (2005), Tate Modern, London. Graham is also a widely published critical and cultural commentator. His essays and articles — touching widely on topics ranging from Gestalt psychology to Dean Martin — constitute one of the most prescient voices of the time and announced a mode of cultural observation influenced by French philosophy, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud. Graham lives and works in New York.

Dan Graham: Beyond is accompanied by a fully illustrated scholarly catalogue that references a magazine format in recognition of the artist’s early work in that medium. Designed by Michael Worthington and co-published by MIT Press, this unique publication includes essays by exhibition co-curators Chrissie Iles and Bennett Simpson, along with essays by Rhea Anastas, Beatriz Colomina, Mark Francis, Alexandra Midal, Philippe Vergne, and Mark von Schlegell; and interviews with musician Kim Gordon, artist Rodney Graham, and artist Nicolás Guagnini. Graham’s own well-known writings — on his own work, that of his peers, and aspects of popular culture such as design — are also featured in a special section, highlighting his accomplishments as a critic. An essential and comprehensive volume on this highly respected American artist, Dan Graham: Beyond is available at the MOCA Store, as well as moca.org.

Dan Graham, still from Rock My Religion, 1982-84, single-channel video, 55:27 min., black and white and color, sound, image courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix
(EAI), New York.