Donald Judd met Dan Flavin in 1962 at a gathering in a Brooklyn apartment organized to discuss the possibility of a cooperative artist-run gallery. They exhibited together a year later when their work was included in New Work: Part I at Richard Bellamy’s Green Gallery, New York (January 8–February 2, 1963). As their mutual friend, the artist John Wesley, has said of their friendship, “[the two] became Flavin and Judd for a while. The two names were together.”1
Flavin made many drawings for the icon series, of which eight variations were realized between 1961 and 1964. Judd installed two of these drawings on the fourth floor of 101 Spring Street (see icon I the heart II icon II the mystery, 1962). In addition to the studies, Judd also installed two icons, including icon VI, in this drawing, on the fourth floor of 101 Spring Street (see Flavin’s icon III (blood) (the blood of a martyr), 1962, and icon VI (Ireland dying) (to Louis Sullivan), 1962–63).
Flavin made numerous sketches before realizing his icons. His “conceptual considerations on the icons span the entire period from 1961 to 1963. . . . In a 5 x 3 in. ring-bound pad that he always took with him, he made countless sketches and drawings that focus not only on the eight pieces then realized but also on ones he never made.”2
“While walking the floor as a guard in the American Museum of Natural History,” wrote Flavin, “I crammed my uniform pockets with notes for an electric light art. ‘Flavin, we don’t pay you to be an artist,’ warned the custodian in charge. I agreed, and quit him. . . . Then, for the next three years, I was off at work on a series of electric light ‘icons.’ (I used the word ‘icon’ as descriptive, not of a strictly religious object, but of one that is based on a hierarchical relationship of electric light over, under, against and with a square-faced structure full of paint light.)”3