Specialists in the Field: Sarah Shelburne at Dia: Beacon

One of the best parts of working at Swann is the ability to be surrounded by incredible varieties of art collecting and witness their intersection within our gallery. Our specialists (who are each, at heart, huge nerds) share interests across fields and enjoy educating ourselves, and this has primed us to recognize conceptual connections between seemingly dissimilar items when out in the wider art world.


Above: Sol LeWitt, Drawing #411B, #411D, #411E. At Dia: Beacon.
Below: P.C., Cinzano. Sold May 25, 2017 for $1,063.


It was in this frame of mind that I visited Dia: Beacon last month. Dia: Beacon, a cookie box printing factory turned world-renowned contemporary art center in Beacon, New York, houses nearly 300,000 square feet of exhibition space devoted to the works of artistic minds such as Dan Flavin, Sol Lewitt, Robert Irwin, Donald Judd and John Chamberlain. It is, in short, an art oasis in the Hudson Valley.


Left: Richard Serra, Union of the Torus and the Sphere, 2001. At Dia: Beacon.
Right: Adolphe Mouron Cassandre, Normandie, 1935. Sold May 25, 2017 for $22,500.


With the intention of quietly consuming a healthy dose of contemporary art on a weekend, the result was my mind racing between the monumental works art in front of me, and the poster design mediums with which I am most familiar.


Left: Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #235 The location of three points, 1974.
Right: Charles Kuhn, Telephone International, 1930. Sold May 25, 2017 for $2,500.


The conceptual nature of the art in Beacon lends itself to this train of thought. The mediums themselves are recognizable in advertising, such as the fluorescent tube lights which make up Dan Flavin’s iconic light sculptures, which were advertised with similar dynamism by Orsi in the 1940s. Similarly, the geometric elements and color schemes of many of the works are graphic design fundamentals, echoed in advertising and propaganda from the last century.


Left: Dan Flavin, Untitled, 1969. At Dia: Beacon.
Right: Orsi, Lamp Flourescente / Philips, circa 1940. Sold May 25, 2017 for $4,000.