Blog: MCA DNA Index

Throwback Thursdays: Dan Flavin Comment Cards

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  1. Long An image of a dark room with colored tube-shaped light bulbs spanning floor to ceiling installed onto a far wall that gets smaller with distance from the viewers perspective. The bulbs alternate in pink and orange, and some are close to one another, some several feet away in an unclear pattern, each bulb casting a reflection of alternating pink and orange on the glossy floor.
Installation view, Dan Flavin: Pink and Gold, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Dec 9, 1967–Jan 14, 1968
© MCA Chicago

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A ruled index card with handwritten text reads "Wowie, zowie!"

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An index card with cursive text reads "I paid to see this?"

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The recently opened exhibition To the Racy Brink (on view through December 10) dives deep into the MCA's history of exhibitions, performances, and publications. Among the museum's earliest documentation and ephemera is a print-on-demand exhibition catalogue that accompanied Dan Flavin: Pink and Gold (1967–68). Comments were solicited from visitors who came to see the artist's first solo museum show with the intention of including their notes in the final catalogue. Though, in the end, they didn't make the cut, the comment cards featured here express a range of reactions—positive, perplexed, and downright pissed off—testaments to the risky ventures undertaken by the young institution.

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  • A ruled index card with red handwritten text reads "Charging admission to view this exhibition is a swindle exceeded only by the white man's purchase of the island of Manhattan for $23."
  • A ruled index card with cursive text reads "This is not art. I'm sorry to see this. It's just a simple electrical display. Please no more of this!"
  • An index card with handwritten text reads "I'm sorry, but this is neither a light show nor sculpture the patterning is rather obvious."
  • An index card with handwritten text reads "personal comment is good because it makes one clarify the haze of reactions that one has to such a work. Thank you. a student at Lake Forest College."
  • An index card with handwritten text reads "Very illuminating— R.A. Mikulec."
  • An index card with handwritten text reads "you should of left it like it was, the lights look better on a Christmas tree." The word "Christmas" takes up most of the index card.
  • An index card with handwritten text "Better use could be made of the area involved, the lights are charming but something should fill the voids between exhibits of this sort are better left to the interior designers convention or maybe the home lighting institute"
A ruled index card with red handwritten text reads "Charging admission to view this exhibition is a swindle exceeded only by the white man's purchase of the island of Manhattan for $23."
A ruled index card with cursive text reads "This is not art. I'm sorry to see this. It's just a simple electrical display. Please no more of this!"
An index card with handwritten text reads "I'm sorry, but this is neither a light show nor sculpture the patterning is rather obvious."
An index card with handwritten text reads "personal comment is good because it makes one clarify the haze of reactions that one has to such a work. Thank you. a student at Lake Forest College."
An index card with handwritten text reads "Very illuminating— R.A. Mikulec."
An index card with handwritten text reads "you should of left it like it was, the lights look better on a Christmas tree." The word "Christmas" takes up most of the index card.
An index card with handwritten text "Better use could be made of the area involved, the lights are charming but something should fill the voids between exhibits of this sort are better left to the interior designers convention or maybe the home lighting institute"
Fueling the Enemy Kitchen