« I love magazines because they are like pop songs, easily disposable, dealing with momentary pleasures. They are full of clichés. We all love the cliché. We all like tautologies, things that seem to be dumb and banal but are actually quite intelligent »
March 31, 1966 by American artist and theorist Dan Graham (born 1942) is an emblematic work of the conceptual art which developed in the mid-1960s. One of the problematics of this art was how to base art on language and communication.
Graham's idea was to publish various texts including lists and enumerations (Figurative, Sequence Number, Detumescence, March 31, 1966…) in various magazines (Harper’s Bazaar, The New York Review of Sex,…). Figurative (1965), for example, is a blurred reproduction of a supermarket receipt between an advert for tampons and a large advert for a new type of bra.
March 31, 1966 is an enumeration of distances, from the outermost realms of the universe to the artist's retina, recorded on his birthday (31 March). We barely realise the unimaginable distances of our vision, from the macrocosm to the microcosm. Beneath an ordinary appearance, this work alludes to the gaping void of time and the immensity of space. By publishing this text, Graham charges the character of adverts, which initially seem trivial, with a mysterious meaning, while obscuring that meaning.
The fact that Graham published his first works in the form of advertising in magazines from 1965 onward can perhaps be explained partly by a desire to communicate and reach a wider audience who are not necessarily art lovers. Moreover, via this practice, the object is genuinely dematerialised, and only the concept remains. Finally, by moving into magazines, he was infiltrating new "territories" as exhibition spaces.
This work comes from the Daled collection. Our thanks to Herman and Nicole Daled for their generous loan.