Dan Graham (b. Urbana/Illinois, USA, 1942) is a trailblazing conceptual artist. Still living and working, Graham is widely acclaimed for his consistent intellectual and artistic output since his career began in the mid-1960s. His work deals with the interplay of art and architecture and discusses the connections between artwork, urban space and audience in the realm of mass culture. Graham made his official foray into the art world in 1962 by establishing the John Daniels Gallery in New York, which featured works by up-and-coming local artists – among them Sol LeWitt and Donald Judd, leading conceptual and visual artists in their own right.
At that point, influenced by conceptual art trends and prominent theoretical debates about the culture industry, Graham began to put forth his own propositions, combining curatorial practices, multiple languages (photography, video, performance, sculpture and installation) and deep critical reflection on subjects of his interest (architecture, television and popular music). The artist’s first piece to reveal this analytical streak was Homes for America (1966), a photo series documenting the development of suburbs in New Jersey (USA), where the artist grew up. Released as a photo-essay on ArtsMagazine, 1966, the series presents Graham’s painstaking research into popular housing plans in post-World War II America, coupled with an essay that relates and problematizes issues such as the economics of land use, the real estate industry, and the serialized art production typical of that period.
Graham’s critical engagement would manifest itself even more poignantly from the late 1970s, when he started his famed pavilion series, featuring structures made mostly of mirrored glass. Straddling the line between architecture, sculpture, and site-specific art, often built from simple shapes (geometric or curved), their surfaces display a superimposition of distorted reflections of surrounding space, combining inner and the outer perspectives to disorient the audience’s perception.
Still based in New York, Graham has exhibited solo and in career retrospectives around the world and was featured in several editions of the Documenta in Kassel (1972, 1977, 1982, 1992, 1997) and the Venice Biennale (1976, 2003, 2005). In addition to having won several awards throughout his career, he was honored in 2010 by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a US-based honor society which presents awards to individuals who made relevant contributions to national culture.