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Era: 1960s - 1970s

Related: happenings - modern art

People: Joseph Beuys - John Cage - Daniel Spoerri - Yoko Ono - Willem de Ridder - Wim Schippers - Piero Manzoni - Yves Klein


Fluxus (from "to flow") is an art movement noted for the blending of different artistic disciplines, primarily visual art but also music and literature. Fluxus was founded in 1962 by George Maciunas (1931-78), an American artist who had moved to Germany to escape his creditors. Besides America and Europe, Fluxus also took root in Japan.

Among its members were Joseph Beuys, John Cage, and Yves Klein, who explored media ranging from performance art to poetry to experimental music. They took the stance of opposition to the ideas of tradition and professionalism in the arts of their time, the Fluxus group shifted the emphasis from what an artist makes to the artist's personality, actions, and opinions. Throughout the 1960s and '70s (their most active period) they staged "action" events, engaged in politics and public speaking, and produced sculptural works featuring unconventional materials. Their radically untraditional works included, for example, the video art of Nam June Paik and the performance art of Beuys. The often playful style of Fluxus artists led to them being considered by some little more than a group of pranksters in their early years. Fluxus has also been compared to Dada and is seen as the starting point of mail art.

Most notorious are the Fluxus performance pieces or "happenings". These pieces were meant to blur the lines between performer and audience, performance and reality. --http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluxus

George Maciunas

I remember visiting George with my dad and being flabbergasted by his projects. Some of my favorites were the suicide kits and feces kits that he sold. The suicide kit consisted of small compartmentalized clear plastic boxes that contained the necessary tools to do yourself in. This kit did not include instructions so you had to get creative with some of the objects. One was a fish hook on a string that George pointed out. The hook would be swallowed then by pulling up the on string you would get to your maker. --Sulaitis,1997 http://www.slonet.org/~tsulaiti/fluxus.html

Ben Vautier’s A Flux Suicide Kit

On view is Ben Vautier’s A Flux Suicide Kit which consists of a plastic box containing a shard of glass, a razor, a fishing hook, matches, an electrical plug, a pin, and a mysterious ball bearing. The piece includes graphic design by Maciunus in the form of an insert depicting a man’s head with explicative arrows marking pressure points like an accupuncturist’s chart. A Flux Suicide Kit alludes to the Vincent Van Gogh suicide and romantic angst-ridden artist myth. It subverts our expectation innocuousness and elicits a response that is both troubling and humorous (Vautier’s Lilliputian noose would only hang a field mouse). (...) --http://nyartsmagazine.com/60/openings.htm


Fluxists include Joseph Beuys, George Brecht (German, 1926-), John Cage (American, 1912-1992), Robert Filliou (French, 1926-1987), Henry Flynt (American, 1940-), Ken Friedman, Al Hansen (1927-1995), Geoffrey Hendricks, Dick Higgins (American, 1938-), Ray Johnson (American, 1927-1995), Alison Knowles (American, 1933-), George Maciunasz, Jackson MacLow (American, 1922-), Larry Miller (American), Charlotte Moorman (American, 1940-1994), Yoko Ono (Japanese-American, 1933- ; married to the "Beatle" John Lennon), Nam Jun Paik (Korean-American, 1932-), Daniel Spoerri (Swiss, 1930-), Benjamin Vautier (French, 1935-), Wolf Vostell (German, 1932-), Robert Watts, Emmett Williams (American, 1925-), and La Monte Young (American, 1935-), among many others.


In the late '60s, there was a concerted attempt to create a distinctively German popular music. Liberated by the influence of Fluxus (LaMonte Young and Tony Conrad were frequent visitors to Germany during this period) and Anglo-American psychedelia, groups like Can and Amon Düül began to sing in German --the first step in countering pop's Anglo-American centrism. - Jon Savage


[...] the musical portion led by composers and musicians such as Charlotte Moorman, Philip Corner, Yoko Ono and Daniel Goode, who went even further in rejecting notions of musical hierarchy: In considering all sound to be beautiful, they went so far on their agenda as to organize a remarkable series of concerts where even sensitive non-musicians could take part as performers. --Rhys Chatham

Paik Nam-june (1932 - 2006)

"Art is just fraud. You just have to do something nobody else has done before" --Paik Nam-june

Exposition of Music - Electronic Television (1963) - Nam June Paik
Photograph: Manfred Montwé
Image sourced here.

Paik Nam-june (July 20, 1932 – January 29, 2006) was a South Korean-born American artist, particularly noted for his video art.

Paik studied music history, art history, and philosophy at the University of Tokyo, where he graduated with a dissertation on Arnold Schoenberg. He went to Germany in 1956 to continue the study of music history at the University of Munich. In Germany he met composers Karlheinz Stockhausen and John Cage, who inspired Paik to go into electronic art. Paik worked with Stockhausen in a studio for Electronic Music. He also became involved with the post neo-Dada art movement Fluxus, founded by George Maciunas. He was a frequent collaborator with cellist Charlotte Moorman.

He began working with modified television sets in 1963 and bought his first video camera in 1965, returning to Japan to conduct experiments with electromagnets and color television alongside electronic engineer Shuya Abe. With Abe he constructed his first video synthesizer while artist-in-residence at WGBH, the Boston public broadcaster. He was known for using rapid cuts and fast motion in his videos. He also claimed to have coined the term "information superhighway" in a paper written in 1974.

He will be remembered as a founding father of video art and will continue to influence the younger generation of artists. A space rock unit known as Paik is named in his honour.

"Art is just fraud. You just have to do something nobody else has done before", he famously declared during an interview with a Korean newspaper, and this has now become a popular quote.

He died on January 29, 2006, at his apartment in Miami, Florida, of natural causes. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nam_June_Paik [Feb 2006]

See also: 1963 - video art -

External links

  • http://www.performance-festival-odense.dk/pfo01/whatis.html
  • http://www.artnotart.com/fluxus/

    Fluxus (1995) - Thomas Kellein

    Fluxus (1995) - Thomas Kellein [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    This magazine-sized volume on the nature of the group Fluxus, termed a "catalog," contains two essays by recognized experts and 189 selected works illustrating 145 international neo-Dada intermedia objects, boxes, editions, artistic happenings, and musical performances orchestrated by Fluxus's founding father, George Maciunas. From his 1961 founding of the group until his death in 1978, Maciunas conceived of this variable international association as a drastic alternative to crass, materialistic "high art" and the fame afforded egocentric artists. Everybody was declared his or her own artist, and works were developed and disseminated through exhibitions, publications, mass-produced objects, "products," paper or boxed editions of cheap Fluxus items, photos, and films. Ironically, perhaps, many widely recognized artists did emerge from Fluxus (e.g., Yoko Ono, John Lennon, Nam June Paik), but none could match the "complex genius" of organizer Maciunas, who was "driven by a utopian vision of a new art and a new society." Recommended for larger contemporary art collections, especially for the bibliography.--From Library Journal Copyright 1995 Cahners Business Information, Inc

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