The Nominal Three (To William of Ockham)

Dan Flavin

New York, USA, 1933 - 1996
  • Date: 
  • Material: 
    Fluorescent lamp
  • Descriptive technique: 
    Installation consisting of a succession of vertical cool white fluorescent tubes in a 1, 2 and 3 sequence, arranged on a wall
  • Dimensions: 
    Overall: variable dimensions / Part 01: 183 x 9 cm / Part 02: 183 x 19 cm / Part 03: 183 x 129 cm
  • Edition/serial number: 
  • Category: 
    Sculpture, Installation
  • Entry date: 
  • Register number: 

From 1962, when Dan Flavin did the Icon Series works, his production was based on light, using common industrial lamps. The Nominal Three (To William of Ockham) is a pioneering work and one of his first large pieces conceived around light from fluorescent tubes and a very fixed idea of spatial relationship. The work is dedicated to the Franciscan monk and scholastic philosopher William of Ockham, who claimed, in defiance of the predominant Catholic doctrine of Saint Thomas Aquinas, that universal ideas were abstract signs, rejecting the idea that it was possible to intellectually know that God existed. Flavin’s first ideas centred around a single fluorescent piece called One (To William of Ockham), while the final triple progression of elements, alluding very clearly to Catholic mysticism, appears in the definitive work held by the Museum. The Nominal Three (To William of Ockham) illuminates the space by groups of fluorescent tubes that increase in number, from one to three. Thus it creates a direct reference to the philosopher’s axiom that in order to explain any phenomenon, one must opt for the lowest number of variables.

Carmen Fernández Aparicio

Dan Flavin
Artworks in the Collection