Fluxus

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Fluxus – a name taken from a Latin word meaning "to flow" – is an international network of artists, composers and designers noted for blending different artistic media and disciplines. They have been active in visual art and music as well as literature, urban planning, architecture, and design. Fluxus is often described as intermedia, a term coined by Fluxus artist Dick Higgins in a famous 1966 essay. For example, poetry and visual art intersect in visual poetry, and concept, text, and performance intersect in Fluxus Event Scores.

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[edit] Early Fluxus

Fluxus was named and loosely organized in 1962 by George Maciunas (1931-78), a Lithuanian-born American artist. Fluxus traces its beginnings to John Cage's 1957 to 1959 Experimental Composition classes at the New School for Social Research in New York City. Many of his students were artists working in other media with little or no background in music. Cage's students included Fluxus founding members Jackson Mac Low, Al Hansen, George Brecht and Dick Higgins. Many other artists were invited by Cage to attend his classes unofficially at the New School. Marcel Duchamp and Allan Kaprow (who is credited as the creator of the first "happenings") were also influential to Fluxus. In its early days Fluxus artists were active in Europe (especially in Germany), and Japan as well as in the United States.

Fluxus encouraged a do it yourself aesthetic, and valued simplicity over complexity. Like Dada before it, Fluxus included a strong current of anti-commercialism and an anti-art sensibility, disparaging the conventional market-driven art world in favor of an artist-centered creative practice. Fluxus artists preferred to work with whatever materials were at hand, and either created their own work or collaborated in the creation process with their colleagues. Outsourcing part of the creative process to commercial fabricators was not usually part of Fluxus practice. Maciunas personally hand-assembled many of the Fluxus multiples and editions.

[edit] Fluxus art

The art forms most closely associated with Fluxus are Event Scores and Fluxus Boxes. Fluxus Boxes (sometimes called Fluxkits or Fluxboxes) originated with George Maciunas who would gather collections of his printed cards, games, and ideas, and put them into small plastic boxes. Event Scores, such as George Brecht's Drip Music, are essentially performance scripts that are usually only a few lines long and consist of descriptions of actions to be performed rather than dialogue. Fluxus artists differentiate Event Scores from "happenings". Whereas Happenings were sometimes complicated, lengthy performances meant to blur the lines between performer and audience, performance and reality, Fluxus performances were usually brief and simple. The Event performances sought to elevate the banal, to be mindful of the mundane, and to simultaneously dissemble the high culture of academic and market-driven music and art. Other creative forms that have been adopted by Fluxus practitioners include collage, audio, music, video, and poetry – especially visual poetry and concrete poetry.

Among its early associates were Joseph Beuys, Dick Higgins, Nam June Paik, Wolf Vostell and Yoko Ono who explored media ranging from performance art to poetry to experimental music to film. 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 their being considered by some little more than a group of pranksters in their early years. Fluxus has also been compared to Dada and aspects of Pop Art and is seen as the starting point of mail art. Artists from succeeding generations such as Mark Bloch do not try to characterize themselves as Fluxus but create spinoffs such as Fluxpan or Jung Fluxus as a way of continuing some of the Fluxus ideas in a 21st century, post-mail art context.

[edit] Fluxus since 1978

After the death of George Maciunas in 1978 a rift opened in the movement between those artists, historians and theorists who placed Fluxus in a specific time frame (1962 to 1978), and others who continue to see Fluxus as a living entity held together by its core values and world view. Thus it is not unusual for Fluxus to be referred to in either the past or the present tense. Some scholars who study Fluxus argue that the unique control that curator Jon Hendricks (this is not the Jon Hendricks who is the "father" of jazz vocalese, although this name links to that article) holds over a major historical Fluxus collection (the Gilbert and Lila Silverman collection) has enabled him to influence the view that Fluxus died with Maciunas through the numerous books and catalogues subsidized by the collection. Hendricks argues that Fluxus was an historical movement that occurred at a particular time, asserting that such central Fluxus artists as Dick Higgins and Nam June Paik could no longer label themselves as active Fluxus artists after 1978, and that contemporary artists influenced by Fluxus cannot lay claim to be Fluxus artists. The influence of Fluxus continues to the present day in multi-media performances

Despite the view espoused by Jon Hendricks, there are a number of artists who remain associated with Fluxus. Some of these post-1978 Fluxus artists were contemporaries of Maciunas, and many more became active in Fluxus after 1978. While there is not a large Fluxus artist community in any single urban center, the rise of the Internet in the 1990s has enabled a vibrant Fluxus community to thrive online in virtual space. Some of the original artists from the sixties and seventies remain active in online communities such as the Fluxlist, and other artists, writers, musicians, and performers have joined them in cyberspace. Fluxus artists also continue to meet in cities around the world to collaborate and communicate in "real-time" and physical spaces.

[edit] Fluxus artists

Many artists, writers, and composers have been associated with Fluxus over the years, including:

[edit] Scholars, critics, and curators associated with Fluxus

[edit] Major collections and archives

  • Alternative Traditions in Contemporary Art, University Library and University Art Museum, University of Iowa Iowa City, Iowa, USA
  • Archiv Sohm, Stadtsgalerie Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany
  • Archivio Conz, Verona, Italy
  • Artpool, Budapest, Hungary
  • Emily Harvey Foundation, New York, New York, and Venice, Italy
  • Fluxus Collection, Fluxus West in England Papers, Tate Gallery Archives, The Tate Gallery, London, England
  • Fluxus Collection, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
  • Franklin Furnace Archive, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA
  • George Maciunas Memorial Collection, The Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, USA
  • Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Foundation, Detroit, Michigan, and New York, New York, USA
  • Jean Brown Archive, Getty Center for the History of the Arts and Humanities, Los Angeles, California, USA

[edit] Selected bibliography

  • Block, René, ed. 1962 Wiesbaden Fluxus 1982. Wiesbaden (BRD): Harlekin Art; Wiesbaden: Museum Wiesbaden and Nassauischer Kunstverein; Kassel: Neue Galerie der Staatliche, 1982.
  • Friedman, Ken, ed. The Fluxus Reader. Chicester, West Sussex and New York: Academy Editions, 1998.
  • Gray, John. Action Art. A Bibliography of Artists’ Performance from Futurism to Fluxus and Beyond. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1993.
  • Held, John Jr. Mail Art: an Annotated Bibliography. Metuchen, New Jersey and London: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1991.
  • Hendricks, Geoffrey, ed. Critical Mass, Happenings, Fluxus, performance, intermedia and Rutgers University 1958-1972. Mason Gross Art Galleries, Rutgers, and Mead Art Gallery, Amherst, 2003.
  • Hendricks, Jon. Fluxus Codex. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1989.
  • Jon Hendricks, ed. Fluxus, etc.: The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Collection. Bloomfield Hills, Michigan: Cranbrook Museum of Art, 1982.
  • Higgins, Hannah. Fluxus Experience. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.
  • Kellein, Thomas. Fluxus. London and New York: Thames and Hudson, 1995.
  • Milman, Estera, ed. Fluxus: A Conceptual Country, [Visible Language, vol. 26, nos. 1/2] Providence: Rhode Island School of Design, 1992.
  • Moren, Lisa. Intermedia. Baltimore, Maryland: University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 2003.
  • Phillpot, Clive, and Jon Hendricks, eds. Fluxus: Selections from the Gilbert and Lila Silverman Collection. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1988.
  • Saper, Craig J. Networked Art. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2001.
  • Schmidt-Burkhardt, Astrit. Maciunas’ Learning Machine from Art History to a Chronology of Fluxus. Detroit, Michigan: Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection, 2005.
  • Smith, Owen F. Fluxus: The History of an Attitude. San Diego, California: San Diego State University Press, 1998.
  • Williams, Emmett and Ann Noel, editors. Mr. Fluxus: A Collective Portrait of George Maciunas 1931-1978. London: Thames and Hudson, 1997.

[edit] External links

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