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Article

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

Julia Robinson

(b Florence, 1935).

American choreographer of Italian birth. An influential choreographer in post-modern dance, Forti’s approach and formal language had an important impact on experimental art of the early 1960s, from Happenings to Minimalism. Born in Italy, her family escaped during World War II to Los Angeles. She attended Reed College before moving in 1956 with her husband, Robert Morris, to San Francisco. There she attended the famous Dance Workshop of Anna Halprin (b 1920), whose innovative approach proved critically influential to a generation of renowned dancer–choreographers. When Forti and Morris moved to New York in 1959–60 she studied with Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham and, perhaps most importantly for her, Robert Ellis Dunn (1928–96). At this time, Forti also taught at a nursery school, and avidly studied the movement of children, importing it directly into her choreography.

A key member of the downtown experimental art scene, her work appeared in concerts at the Reuben Gallery (...

Article

Marco Livingstone

(b Nashville, TN, June 1, 1937).

American painter, sculptor, installation artist, draughtsman, performance artist and film maker. He studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1955), at the New School for Social Research in New York (1956) and under Hans Hofmann in Provincetown, MA (1957). Together with Allan Kaprow, Claes Oldenburg, Jim Dine, Robert Whitman (b 1935) and others, he was briefly an instrumental figure in the history of performance art in New York during the late 1950s with the Happenings he presented as early as 1957, most famously The Burning Building (1959), which took place in his loft at 148 Delancey Street (designated the Delancey Street Museum). With their narrative flow and elements of comedy, Grooms’s highly engaging performances were closer to the ‘painter’s theatre’ of Dine than to the events created by Kaprow or the Fluxus artists. The energy that went into these performances was soon redeployed into films, beginning with ...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 1927; died 21 June 1995, in Cologne.

Performance artist.

Neo-Dadaism, Fluxus.

Al Hansen was born in Queens, New York. He joined the US Air Force and served his country during World War II. While in Frankfurt with the Army of Occupation, he pushed a piano off the top of a five-storey building, an act he was to repeat many times elsewhere. He took part in the first demonstration of the Fluxus group in Wiesbaden in ...

Article

Julia Robinson

(b New York, Oct 5, 1927; d Cologne, June 22, 1995).

American composer and collagist. Hansen was a New York-based artist and a key figure in the founding of Happenings. He served in the US Air Force between 1946 and 1948, and studied under the GI Bill at the Art Students’ League, Tulane University, and at Hans Hofmann’s Art School. In the 1950s, Hansen joined John Cage’s Experimental Composition class at the New School for Social Research in New York (1957–9) where he met fellow poets and artists crucial to the development of Concrete poetry, Happenings, and Fluxus (Jackson Mac Low (1922–2004), Allan Kaprow, George Brecht, Dick Higgins (1938–98), and Larry Poons). A classic Hansen score written in Cage’s class—and performed there, and later at the Living Theater—was his Alice Denham in 48 Seconds. Using a Cagean system where letters (e.g., of a name) could be replaced by numbers that would define limits for the piece—which sound, how loud, and for how long—Hansen replaced the letters of “Alice Denham” with numbers. Handing out toy noise-makers to the class, he placed the score (comprised of large numbers) on the classroom blackboard, to cue the sound. In ...

Article

Julia Robinson

Term first formally used by the American artist Allan Kaprow for his 18 Happenings in 6 Parts, presented in early October 1959 at the Reuben Gallery, New York City, as the inaugurating event for that space. (Informal “happening-like” experiments had been presented by Kaprow in April 1958 at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, and at the Reuben Gallery in a pre-opening piece called Intermission [June 1959].) Through 1960, the artists pioneering the Happenings form were: Kaprow, Robert Whitman (b 1935), Claes Oldenburg, Simone Forti, Red Grooms, Al Hansen and Jim Dine. Happenings appeared at experimental downtown spaces such as Groom’s “Delancey Street Museum” (his studio on the lower East Side), the Judson Church (on Washington Square) and the Reuben Gallery, as well as in New Jersey, at George Segal’s farm, and on the campus of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, where Kaprow was teaching and Whitman was a student. According to Whitman, when Kaprow named ...

Article

Julia Robinson

American artists’ space located at 239 Thompson Street at the south edge of Washington Square in New York City. Beginning in the late 1950s the Judson Church hosted experimental avant-garde activities—art installations, Happenings, the beginnings of postmodern dance—launching a now celebrated group of artists, dancers, poets and composers, and fueling the radical downtown art scene. The platform of free expression Judson provided for the untested work of the 1960s generation, at a time when these artists were far from established, was a critical contribution to the invention, originality and ultimate international renown of these preeminent American artists.

Built in 1890 and designed by the renowned architect Stanford White (of McKim, Mead & White), the church’s original mission was to serve the immigrant population of Lower Manhattan with health and recreational programs as well as religious services. In the 1950s Reverend Bob Spike (1949–55) asked his seminary intern, Budd Scott, to go into the neighborhood and spend time with the locals—including a significant contingent of struggling artists—to discover their needs. Scott found out that the artists urgently needed a place to present their work. Judson’s national reputation for fostering radical artistic practice came under the tenure of Reverend Howard Moody (...

Article

American, 20th century, female.

Born 1933, in New York.

Performance artist, environmental artist.

Neo-Dadaism, Fluxus.

Paris (FNAC): Wild Goose Moon; Jibway (1991)

Paris (Prints Collection)

Beaumont-Maillet, Laure/Woimant, Françoise/Pernoud, Emmanuel: De Bonnard à Baselitz - Dix ans d'enrichissements du Cabinet des estampes 1978-1988...

Article

Midori Yoshimoto

(b New York, NY, 1933).

American printmaker, sound artist and performance artist. She was one of the founding members of Fluxus, the international avant-garde collective formed in 1962. Transferring from Middlebury College to Pratt Institute in New York, Knowles studied painting and drawing with Adolph Gottlieb and Richard Lindner and graduated in 1956. By the late 1950s she had lost interest in painting and burnt all her early paintings in a bonfire. It was then that she befriended artists Dick Higgins (1938–98), George Brecht and composer John Cage whose meditation on everyday life and music of indeterminacy inspired her to pursue a new artistic path.

After marrying in 1960, Knowles and Higgins were invited by George Maciunas to perform in the Fluxus inaugural concert series in Europe. There Knowles started to write her “Propositions,” radical reinterpretation of Cagean text scores, which transferred the artistic agency to the audience. Among her early events, Make a Salad...

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

Julia Robinson

(b Kaunas, Lithuania, Nov 8, 1931; d Boston, MA, May 9, 1978).

American artist, architect and designer. Maciunias is best known as the key impresario of Fluxus, the international group of artists, composers, poets and performers who came together in 1962. Maciunas chose the name “Fluxus” to galvanize the radical activities of this group, and to define a sense of constant, dynamic, agitation and thus a politics for the work. Arriving in the USA in 1948, he studied graphic design at New York’s Cooper Union, architecture at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, PA, and art history at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. At this time he developed vast, genealogical art history charts, which he called “Learning Machines.” He later used this model to situate Fluxus within the genealogy of 20th century avant-gardes.

A 1960 class in Electronic Music with Richard Maxfield at the New School for Social Research introduced Maciunas to the New York avant-garde. In 1961 he opened the AG Gallery on Madison Avenue, New York, asking ...

Article

Klaus Ottmann

(b San Rafael, CA, Jan 11, 1955).

American sculptor, installation artist and musician. Marclay studied at the Ecole Supérieure d’Art Visuel in Geneva and at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. Influenced by Fluxus, the interdisciplinary art movement of the 1960s, the experimental music of John Cage, and the punk and art bands of the late 1970s, Marclay started to perform in clubs in New York, playing his own record collages, which he had made by cutting up vinyl records and gluing them back together in different configurations.

For Marclay, making objects is about altering objects in order to extract new meaning, as with his stitched-together record covers or his Record without a Cover (Recycled Records, 1985) that was distributed without a sleeve or cover to allow it to accumulate dust and scratches. In 1989 he created Footsteps, an installation at the Shedhalle in Zurich, by covering the floor of one of its galleries with 3500 vinyl records. Visitors had to step on the records to reach the other galleries. The scratched and stepped-on records, which featured the sounds of a tap dancer, were sold afterwards....

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

Deborah Cullen

(Raphel)

(b Brooklyn, New York, 1934).

American performance artist, educator and founder of El Museo del Barrio, New York. Ortiz grew up in New York and received his BFA and MFA from Pratt Institute in 1964, and his PhD in Fine Arts and Fine Arts in Higher Education at the Teachers College of Columbia University, 1982.

In the late 1950s, Ortiz began exploring ritual and destruction. Taking found filmstrips, he placed them in a medicine bag and used a hatchet to cut them into pieces. He then spliced them together in random order, creating a series of short, cut-up films. This led to his first private, ritually transformed domestic objects between 1959 and 1961, which often included cushions, chairs and sofas from his studio worked over several days, and the Archaeological Finds series between 1961 and 1967. He authored Destructivism: A Manifesto between 1957 and 1962.

Carrying out public Destruction Ritual Realizations between 1965 and 1970...

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

American, 20th century, male.

Born 22 October 1925, in Port Arthur, Texas; died 12 May 2008, in Captiva Island, Florida.

Painter (mixed media), watercolourist, sculptor of assemblages, engraver, lithographer, screen printer, installation artist, performance artist. Stage sets.

Neo-Dadaism, Fluxus, Citationism, Copy Art.

Experiments in Art and Technology group...

Article

Julia Robinson

American art gallery in New York. The Reuben Gallery was a pioneering gallery of Happenings, events and new media art that ran from 1959 to 1961. Opened by Anita Reuben in the summer of 1959, at 61 Fourth Avenue, New York City, the first public event was Allan Kaprow ’s 18 Happenings in 6 Parts (October 4–10, 1959), which inaugurated the term “Happenings.” Reuben’s husband, Max Baker, an advertising executive, saw potential in the word “Happening(s)” and insisted that the gallery use it. Soon after, the 1960 program was announced as New Happenings at the Reuben.

As the first art gallery presenting these new experimental models of practice, the Reuben Gallery, with Kaprow’s help, ushered the work into recognition as art. Kaprow had been part of the artist-run Hansa Gallery, and when it folded in the summer of 1959 he was asked to help with ideas/events for Reuben’s new space. Quickly it became a venue for artist peers (such as ...

Article

Constance W. Glenn

(b Kastoria, Greece, Sept 14, 1936).

American painter, sculptor and photographer of Greek birth. He immigrated to West New York, NJ, in 1948 and graduated from Rutgers University in 1959. He participated in the earliest Happenings, and he studied art history with Meyer Schapiro and acting at the Stella Adler Studio Theater. In 1960 he created the first of his well-known boxes, for example Box No. 3, 1962–1963 (New York, Whitney). His choice of media ranged from the sensuous to the menacing, and he preferred opulent textures and colours. Tacks, pins and shards of glass encrusted such early works as Book #4 (Dante’s Inferno) (1962; New York, MOMA). Always self-referential, he first secreted a photograph of himself in early boxes and constructions. On moving to New York in 1964 he created another unconventional self-portrait: a gallery installation, Room, inspired by his claustrophobic New Jersey bedroom.

From 1969 Samaras began to produce photographs using his body as subject and metaphor in a series entitled ...