By employing generic mass-produced light fixtures in his works, Flavin denies his art any transcendental significance while simultaneously denying those same light fixtures their simple utilitarian function by calling them art. His simplified visual vocabulary is related to the work of contemporaries such as Donald Judd, who have been labeled Minimalist artists for their reduction of formal devices and their emphasis on serial and rational rather than gestural forms. Light, rather than form, activates the space.
“Monument” for V. Tatlin is part of a series Flavin dedicated to Vladimir Tatlin (1885-1953), the leading figure in the Russian Constructivist movement who dreamed of a close-knit relationship between art and science, artistry and engineering. Tatlin’s greatest work was his unrealized spiral tower The Monument to the Third International, for which Flavin’s “monuments” are named.