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Light art is a form of visual art where main media of expression is light. Light has been used for architectural aesthetical effects throughout human history. However, the modern concept of light art emerged with the development of artificial light sources and experimenting in modern art.
Art critic Hilarie M. Sheets explains that "the interplay of dark and light has been a theme running from Greek and Roman sculpture to Renaissance painting to experimental film. But as technology advanced from the glow of the electric lightbulb to the computer monitor, artists have been experimenting with actual light as material and subject. The 1960s saw a high point in activity, with artists such as Dan Flavin, Bruce Nauman, and James Turrell creating sculptures and environments out of diffuse light or radiant fluorescent and neon tubing.
Today, younger artists are looking beyond their forerunners and taking light in new directions."  One of the first to use this technique was László Moholy-Nagy (1895–1946)  Examples of light art include works by Julio Le Parc, François Morellet, Gerhard von Graevenitz, Chul Hyun Ahn, Dan Flavin,Olafur Eliasson,James Turrell,Waltraut Cooper, Bruce Munro, Aleksandra Stratimirovič, Austine Wood Comarow, Tim White-Sobieski and many others.
One of the first artistic uses of light is the way in which stained glass can be used to color transmitted light; examples of this go back to the 4th century. This art form is most prominently seen in churches and mosques with elaborate stained glass windows.
Another use of light in art is in shadow puppetry, where projections of shadows from puppets can be used to create moving images. A form of shadow puppetry is described as early as 380 BC by Plato in the Allegory of the cave.
All visual art uses light in some form, but in modern photography and motion pictures, use of light is especially important. However, with the invention of electrical artificial light, possibilities were expanded and many artists began using the light as the main form of expression, instead of just as a vehicle for other forms of art. László Moholy-Nagy (1895–1946), a member of the Bauhaus who was influenced by Constructivism is regarded as one of the fathers of Light Art. Light sculpture and moving sculpture are the components of his Light-Space Modulator (1922–30), which is one of the first light art pieces which also incorporates kinetic art. In 1946, Gyula Kosice used neon lighting in art-works.
Light sculptures are an intermedia and time-based art form in which sculpture or any kind of art object produces light, or the reverse (in the sense that light is manipulated in such a way as to create a sculptural as opposed to temporal form or mass). Most often light sculpture artists were primarily either visual artists or composers, not having started out directly making light sculpture. The most well known contemporary light artists include, Chul Hyun Ahn, Olafur Eliasson, Spencer Finch, Dan Flavin (in 1963), Ivan Navarro, James Turrell, Bruce Munro and Leo Villareal.  in addition to Gyula Kosice (1946), Lucio Fontana (1949), Martial Raysse (1962), Chryssa (1962), François Morellet (1963), Joseph Kosuth (1965), Bruce Nauman, Piotr Kowalski or Mario Merz.
Also included in the light art genre is the so-called light graffiti including projection onto buildings, arrangement of lighted windows in buildings and painting with hand-held lights onto film using time exposure. A unique project for light art can be found in front of the Osram headquarters in Munich, Germany: Seven LED stelae form as a platform for altering art projects (involving video artists such as Diana Thater and Björn Melhus, film makers such as Harun Farocki or media artists such as Art+Com.
Overview of curators who work regularly and repeatedly to the theme of light in contemporary fine art:
- „Lichtparcours“, Temporary interventions in Braunschweig, 2000
- „Bridges and Light“, Permanent installations in Hamm, 2002
- „Kunstlichttore“, Permanent interventions in Bochum, since 2003
- "7 Towers – 7 Lights", Temporary interventions in Braunschweig, 2003/2004
- „Luzboa”, Festival in Lisbon, 2004, 2006.
- “Skyway”, Festival in Torun, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012.
- “Vicente", Urban Culture Project in Lisbon, 2011, 2012.
- "Light Blade", Light Art Installation - Nicola Evangelisti, GAM - Milano, April 2009
- "Dan Flavin - Panza Collection", Museu Berardo - Lisboa, June 2009
- "Luces - Light Art from Italy", Archäologisches Museum - Frankfurt, April 2010
- "JETZT Archaeological Shadows", Exhibition of Fabrizio Corneli, Archäologisches Museum - Frankfurt, April 2012
- „Centrum Kunstlicht in de Kunst“, Museum in Eindhoven, 2008 to 2011 (closed)
- „GLOW“ (Co-Curator), Light Art Festival in Eindhoven, 2010, 2011
- "STRP Festival", multimedia arts festival Eindhoven, 2011-2012
- „Center of International Light Art“, Museum in Unna, since March 2012
- “Smart Light Sydney”, www.smartlightsydney.com Festival in Sydney, 2009 (Founding Sustainable Light Art and New Music event for the inaugural Vivid Sydney)
- “Vivid Sydney-Lights On", Festival in Sydney, 2011 (Held annually)
- “Smart Light Singapore", www.smartlightwalks.com for "i Light Marina Bay” I Light Marina Bay, Festival in Singapore, 2010, 2012
- “Svetlobni gverili”, Festival in Ljubljana, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
- „Lichtrouten Luedenscheid“ (with Tom Groll), Festival in Luedenscheid, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2013
- „GLOW“ (with Tom Groll), Festival in Eindhoven, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
- „Narracje“, Festival in Danzig, 2009, 2010, 2011
- RUHR.2010 – Temporary interventions in Essen, Dortmund and Hagen, 2010
- „Lichtstroeme“ (with Tom Groll), Festival in Koblenz, 2011, 2012
- „Festival of Color at Bauhaus Dessau“, Festival in Dessau-Roßlau, 2011
- „Lightmarks“ (Co-Curator), Festival in Sønderborg, 2017
- „Lichtsicht“, Festival in Bad Rothenfelde, 2009, 2011, 2013
- „Beograd Svetlosti“, Festival in Belgrad, 2009, 2010, 2011
- „Lightmarks“ (Co-Curator), Festival in Sønderborg, 2017
- „Illumenarts“, Gallery in Copenhagen, since 2008
- „Lightmarks“, Festival in Sønderborg, 2017
Matthias Wagner K.
- „Hellweg – Ein Lichtweg“, Permanent interventions in the Hellweg District, since 2002
- „International Biennal of Light Art“ in the Ruhr and Hellweg District, 2010 (not continued)
- Curator and Artistic Director of the Amsterdam Light Festival, a festival in the public space of the inner city, taking place annually in December and January. 2012, the Festival attracted over 300,000 visitors.
- The Amsterdam Light Festival selects artworks based on a "call for concepts" that is open to all.
The Neons Parallax Project
In Geneva, Switzerland, The Funds for Contemporary Art of the City and Canton of Geneva initiated in 2005 a project of public art. The Neons Parallax envisages the achievement of seven luminous installations, each one conceived by a different artist on the roofs of the buildings located at the edge of the Plaine de Plainpalais . The works will be built at the rate of two original creations per year (2007, 2008, 2009 and three for 2012). The project is subventionned by the city and the canton and the buildings are graciously lended by their owners for 10 years.
There is already six installations by [Sylvie Fleury (CH), Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (F), Nic Hess (CH), Christian Jankowski (D), Jérôme Leuba (CH) and Sislej Xhafa (AL). Three additional signs, one designed by Ann Veronica Janssens (BE) chosen as a result of a contest by invitation, one by Pierre Bismuth (F) chosen by public contest and the last one by Christian Robert-Tissot (CH) which is a direct order of Pierre Darier from the Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch & Cie Private Bank. As well as an exhibition, a symposium on public art and a publication will take place in March 2012. See below in the gallery, the works of Sylvie Fleury (Geneva) et Jérôme Leuba (Geneva), Christian Jankowski (Germany), Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (France), Sislej Xhafa (Kosovo) et Nic Hess (Zurich).
Artists in light
- Grimanesa Amorós
- Frida Blumenberg
- Eberhard Bosslet
- Ron Cooper
- Waltraut Cooper
- Ólafur Elíasson
- Annet van Egmond
- Spencer Finch
- Ellis D Fogg
- Dan Flavin
- Lucio Fontana
- Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster
- Gerhard von Graevenitz
- Richard Harned
- Michael Hayden
- Jasper Johns
- Manfred Kielnhofer
- Gyula Kosice
- Piotr Kowalski
- Lili Lakich
- Gilles Larrain
- Frank Malina
- David Medalla
- Teddy Lo
- Mario Merz
- Victor Millonzi
- François Morellet
- Bruce Munro
- Bruce Nauman
- Bill Parker
- Robert Rauschenberg
- Martial Raysse
- Larry Rivers
- John Rosenbaum
- James Rosenquist
- Raphaele Shirley
- Keith Sonnier
- James Turrell
- Tim White-Sobieski
- Weibel, Peter; Jensen, Gregor, eds. (2006). Lichkunst aus Kunstlicht: Licht als Medium der Kunst im 20. und 21. Jahrhundert. ISBN 978-3-7757-1774-8. Catalog for an exhibition "Light Art from Artificial Light: Light as the Medium of Art in the 20th and 21st Centuries" at the Zentrum fur Kunst und Medientechnologie in Karlsruhe, Germany (November 19, 2005 - May 1, 2006).
- Sheets, Hilarie M. "Waves of Light." ARTnews Mar. 2007: 131-33. ARTnews. Print.Web. 1 Feb. 2012. <http://www.artnews.com/2007/03/01/waves-of-light/>.
- [Tate bio "László Moholy-Nagy, Tate bio". tate.org.
- "Light Art". Kunstlexikon. Hatje Cantz Verlag. February 5, 2005. Retrieved 2011-01-17.
- "Dan Flavin". MoMA.
- Johnson, Markham (October 4, 2007). "Meet Your Maker". Time Magazine.
- Kane, Carolyn (June 10, 2009). "Light Art Museumified". rhizome.org. Retrieved 2011-06-11.
- Sheets, Hilarie M. Illuminated Void. Comp. C. Grimaldis Gallery. Baltimore: C. Grimaldis Gallery, 2011. Print
- Official Website “Lichtparcours Braunschweig”
- Info "Bruecken und Licht" by the City of Hamm
- Info "Kunstlichttore" by the City of Bochum
- Info "7 Towers - 7 Lights" at “nrw-lichtgestaltung.de”
- Official Website http://2012.skyway.art.pl
- Official Website http://www.travessadaermida.com/index.php?q=C/NEWSSHOW/1948
- Official Website http://www.travessadaermida.com/index.php?q=C/NEWSSHOW/2399
- Ruhrlights 2007 in Muehlheim
- Ruhrlights 2010
- Official Website “Lichtrouten Luedenscheid ”
- "GLOW" - web archive
- "Narracje" - web archive
- RUHR.2010-Eroeffnung, Documentation by Joeressen and Kessner
- Documentation by Geert Mul, Hagen 2010
- Official Website “Lichtstroeme Koblenz”
- "Festival of Color at Bauhaus Dessau" – web archive
- Official Website “Lightmarks Sonderborg”
- Official Website http://www.rogiervanderheide.com
- Official Website http://www.amsterdamlightfestival.com
- Jansen, J. (1991), 'Het Electrisch': van lamplicht tot lichtsculptuur, Museum het Princessehof, ISBN 978-90-71588-10-5.
- Tahara, Keiichi (2001), Light, Sculpture, Photography, Editions Assouline, ISBN 978-2-84323-262-6.
- JanLeonardo Woellert & Joerg Miedza - Painting With Light: Light Art Performance Photography, Rocky Nook; 1 Edition (April 10, 2011), ISBN 978-1933952741
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Light art|
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- Luceonline.it, the cultural portal of light and new technologies
- Light Art & Light Painting since 2005