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Julia Robinson

(b New York, Aug 27, 1926; d Cologne, Germany, Dec 5, 2008).

American sculptor, performance artist, and writer. A proto-conceptual artist, Brecht emerged as part of the group of avant-garde composers and artists surrounding John Cage in the late 1950s. His model of the ‘event score’, a short textual proposition meant to activate the experience between subject and object, was a pivotal contribution to the conceptual strategies of art in the 1960s. A member of Cage’s Experimental Composition courses at New York’s New School for Social Research (1956–60), he wrote chance-based, indeterminate scores, first for music, and eventually for events in all dimensions. In October 1959 his first solo exhibition, Toward Events: An Arrangement (New York, Reuben Gal.), featured constellations of ready-made objects in familiar ‘frames’, such as a regular medicine cabinet (e.g. Repository, 1961; New York, MOMA) or a suitcase, with instructions indicating how they could be perceived as ‘events’ via suggested (but open) time-based encounters. Between 1959 and ...

Article

Hugh Davies

(b Los Angeles, Sept 5, 1912; d New York, Aug 12, 1992).

American composer, philosopher, writer and printmaker. He was educated in California and then made a study tour of Europe (1930–31), concentrating on art, architecture and music. On his return to the USA he studied music with Richard Buhlig, Adolph Weiss, Henry Cowell and Arnold Schoenberg; in 1934 he abandoned abstract painting for music. An interest in extending the existing range of percussion instruments led him, in 1940, to devise the ‘prepared piano’ (in which the sound is transformed by the insertion of various objects between the strings) and to pioneer electronic sound sources.

Cage’s studies of Zen Buddhism and Indian philosophy during the 1940s resulted in a decision to remove intention, memory and personal taste from music, based on the Oriental concern with process rather than result. According equal status to both structured sound and noise, he treated silence (the absence of intentional sounds) as an element in its own right. In the early 1950s he began his close collaboration with the pianist ...

Article

Jean E. Feinberg

(b Cincinnati, OH, June 6, 1935).

American painter, sculptor, printmaker, illustrator, performance artist, stage designer and poet. He studied art at the Cincinnati Arts Academy (1951–3) and later at the Boston Museum School and Ohio University (1954–7). In 1957 he married Nancy Minto and the following year they moved to New York. Dine’s first involvement with the art world was in his Happenings of 1959–60. These historic theatrical events, for example The Smiling Workman (performed at the Judson Gallery, New York, 1959), took place in chaotic, makeshift environments built by the artist–performer. During the same period he created his first assemblages, which incorporated found materials. Simultaneously he developed the method by which he produced his best known work—paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures that depict and expressively interpret common images and objects.

Clothing and domestic objects featured prominently in Dine’s paintings of the 1960s, with a range of favoured motifs including ties, shoes and bathroom items such as basins, showers and toothbrushes (e.g. ...

Article

Vanina Costa

(b Sauve, Gard, Jan 17, 1926; d les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil, nr Périgueux, Dec 2, 1987).

French performance artist, conceptual artist and writer. He studied economics and science at the University of California at Los Angeles from 1948 to 1951, but he was self-taught as an artist. Having first worked as a playwright during the second half of the 1950s, in 1960 he presented the first of his performances incorporating poetry. By 1962 he was involved with the Fluxus movement; sharing his fellow artists’ distaste for marketable art objects, he not only continued to create performances and other ephemeral works but also involved himself in conceptual gestures such as the foundation of a ‘République Géniale’. He made films and videos, sent enigmatic objects through the post as a form of correspondence art and worked against traditional ideas about the individuality of the artist by working collaboratively with others: in 1964 he and Joachim Pfeufer created the Poïpoïdrome, a group researching ‘permanent creation’ and the ‘principle of equivalence’, and in ...

Article

Jens Peter Munk

(b Copenhagen, Sept 1, 1938).

Danish painter, sculptor and writer. He graduated in geology from the University of Copenhagen in 1964 and did geological work in Greenland between 1958 and 1972. In 1962 he entered the Eksperimenterende Kunst-skole (Experimental Art School) in Copenhagen. His first one-man exhibitions were in 1964 at the Hovedbibliotek in Copenhagen and in 1965 at the Frie Udstilling, Copenhagen. His first important one-man exhibition abroad was at the Museum Folkwang, Essen, in 1977. He later exhibited widely at public and commercial galleries throughout Europe and the USA.

A prolific artist, Kirkeby used a range of different media. He was a member of the Fluxus group and was influenced by Pop art in the 1960s, as can be seen in The Price of your Stupidity (1964; ex-J. Hunov priv. col., see 1984 exh. cat.), an overpainted prototype for a series of modifications of diverse newspaper illustrations. Later he was influenced by Tachism and Abstract Expressionism. The vigorous brushwork and chromatic beauty of his, mostly untitled, paintings (e.g. ...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 12 December 1922, in Chicago; died 8 December, 2004.

Painter, performance artist, poet, writer.

Fluxus.

Jackson Mac Low has taught in numerous schools, mainly in association with New York University. He is the author of about 30 works. He lived and worked in New York. In the USA in the 1960s Mac Low was one of the Fluxus artists grouped around George Maciunas. He often carried out his performances with his wife, Anne Tardos....

Article

Barbara Haskell

(Thure)

(b Stockholm, Jan 28, 1929).

American sculptor, draughtsman, printmaker, performance artist, and writer of Swedish birth. He was brought from Sweden to the USA as an infant and moved with his family to Chicago in 1936 following his father’s appointment to the consulship there. Except for four years of study (1946–50) at Yale University in New Haven, CT, during which time he decided to pursue a career in art, Chicago remained his home until his move to New York in 1956. Within two years of this move, Oldenburg had become part of a group of artists who challenged Abstract Expressionism by modifying its thickly impastoed bravura paint with figurative images and found objects. Oldenburg’s first one-man show in 1959, at the Judson Gallery in New York, included figurative drawings and papier mâché sculptures. For his second show, also at the Judson Gallery, in 1960, shared with Jim Dine, Oldenburg transformed his expressionist, figurative paintings into a found-object environment, ...

Article

Mick Hartney

(b Seoul, July 20, 1932; d Miami, Jan 29, 2006).

South Korean video artist, performance artist, musician, sculptor, film maker, writer, and teacher, active in Germany and the USA (see fig.). From 1952 to 1956 he studied music and aesthetics at the University of Tokyo. In 1956 he moved to the Federal Republic of Germany: he studied music at the Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Munich, and worked with the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen at Darmstadt, before joining Fluxus, with whom he made performance art, experimental music, and ‘anti-films’ (e.g. the imageless Zen for Film, 1962). His Neo-Dada performances in Cologne during this period included a celebrated encounter with John Cage, during which he formed a lasting friendship with the avant-garde composer by cutting off his tie. Inspired by Cage’s ‘prepared piano’, in which the timbre of each note was altered by inserting various objects between the strings, Paik’s experiments from 1959 with television sets, in which the broadcast image was modified by magnets, culminated in his seminal exhibition ...

Article

[Diter; Diterrot; Karl-Dietrich]

(b Hannover, April 21, 1930; d Basle, June 6, 1998).

Swiss painter, collagist, draughtsman and poet. Born of a German mother and Swiss father, he was evacuated in 1943 to Zurich, where he began to draw and write poems. By 1946 he had taken up etching and oil painting and in 1947 he left the Gymnasium in St Gallen to become a graphic design apprentice at Studio Friedrich Wüthrich in Berne, where he remained until 1951. While there he experimented with linocuts, woodcuts and collage and in 1950 took private lessons in lithography from Eugen Jordi in Kehrsatz. He tried unsuccessfully to refuse military service in 1950 but, following a year of feigning madness, was discharged from the army in 1952. In 1951 he met the poet Eugen Gomringer and the Swiss painter Marcel Wyss (b 1930) and with them co-founded the review Spirale in order to publish their poetry, the first issue appearing in 1953. In 1953...