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Article

French, 20th century, male.

Born 1937, in Nice.

Painter.

Groupe 70, Fluxus.

He lives and works in Nice. After a literary education, he joined the Fluxus movement in the 1960s. In addition to his work as a visual artist, he has published poems, essays and numerous articles. From ...

Article

(b Geneva, June 24, 1948).

Swiss draughtsman, performance artist, painter, and sculptor. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Geneva (1966–7) and at the Glamorgan Summer School, Britain (1969). Armleder is known primarily for his involvement with Fluxus during the 1960s and 1970s, which included performances, installations, and collective activities. He was a member of the Groupe Luc Bois, based in Geneva in 1963. In 1969, with Patrick Lucchini and Claude Rychner, he was a founder-member of the Groupe Ecart, Geneva, from which stemmed the Galerie Ecart (1973) and its associated performance group (1974) and publications. Armleder’s first exhibition was at the Galerie Ecart in 1973, followed in the same year by one at the Palais de l’Athénée, Geneva. The anti-establishment and anti-formalist philosophy of the Fluxus groups continued in Armleder’s mixed-media works of later years, which include the Furniture Sculpture of the 1980s. In works that couple objects (second-hand or new) with abstract paintings executed by Armleder himself, and which often refer ironically to earlier modernist abstract examples, he questioned the context in which art is placed and the notion of authenticity in art. Such concerns continued to appear in his work. Armleder’s ...

Article

Swiss, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1946, in Geneva.

Mixed media, musician.

Fluxus.

Michel Asso, best known for his work as a musician, took part in an exhibition by the Fluxus group in 1966 at the Galerie Jacqueline Ranson in Paris.

Donguy, Jacques: ‘Les 40 ans de Fluxus 1962-2002’ in ...

Article

Ben  

Swiss, 20th century, male.

Active from 1949 active in France.

Born 18 July 1935, in Naples, to an Irish mother and a Swiss-French father.

Painter (mixed media), installation artist.

Neo-Dadaism, Fluxus, Conceptual Art, Mail Art.

Ben spent periods in Turkey, Egypt and Greece before settling in Nice in 1949. At the age of 16 he broke off his studies, working in a bookshop and then becoming a second-hand goods dealer. However, Ben never ceased to contemplate the legacy created by Marcel Duchamp and the consequences of the ...

Article

Ben  

Vanina Costa

[Vautier, Benjamin]

(b Naples, Italy, July 18, 1935).

French painter and performance artist. In 1949 he settled in Nice, where in 1958 he bought a record shop, which he used to stage exhibitions. In this gallery, which he initially called Laboratoire 32, and later Galerie Ben Doute de Tout, he held his first one-man show in 1960. Self-taught, he was by this time producing paintings of large handwritten words on a plain background, often coloured black and white, as in Je suis un menteur (1959; see 1987 exh. cat., p. 24). In an equally subversive spirit he created the Vomit Pictures (1958; see 1987 exh. cat., p. 14), which consisted of black canvases on to which he vomited. In the early 1960s he became associated with Fluxus, inscribing a ping-pong ball ‘Dieu’ for his Fluxbox Containing God (1961; see 1987 exh. cat., pp. 54–5) and in 1962 taking part in the Festival of Misfits at Gallery One in London. His Fluxus editioned works were often containers filled with everyday objects or materials, such as ...

Article

German, 20th century, male.

Born 1921, in Krefeld; died 23 January 1986, in Düsseldorf.

Performance artist, installation artist, assemblage artist, engraver.

Neo-Dadaism, Fluxus, Conceptual Art.

Joseph Beuys spent his youth in Cleves. Relatively little is known about his early years, but he is thought to have begun studying natural sciences when he was mobilised in 1941 as a bomber pilot in the Luftwaffe. In winter 1943, his plane was shot down over the Russian steppes near Sevastopol. According to Beuys, some Tatars found him buried in the cabin wreckage and just managed to save his life by smearing the wounds of his half-frozen body with animal fat and wrapping him in felt. There is some doubt as to the truth of parts of this story, but certainly the metaphorical power of the fat and felt became a recurring theme throughout the rest of his career....

Article

Heiner Stachelhaus

revised by Ina Blom

(b Krefeld, May 12, 1921; d Düsseldorf, Jan 23, 1986).

German sculptor, performance artist, printmaker teacher, and political activist. He opposed a concept of art based on such autonomous genres as panel painting and sculpture. Instead he pursued in his performance art (‘Aktionen’) and sculpture an ‘expanded concept of art’, aimed at a total permeation of life by creative acts. By his provocative and often misunderstood statement that ‘each person is an artist’, he did not mean that everyone is a painter or a sculptor. Rather, he wanted to express the idea that any person could become creatively active. This concept culminated logically in his idea of ‘social sculpture’, an art designed to activate the creative power possessed by every individual to form his or her own life situation.

As a schoolboy Beuys was strongly interested in natural science, which remained significant for his later work. After taking his Abitur in 1940 in Kleve on the Lower Rhine, where he grew up, he first wanted to become a paediatrician. However, in ...

Article

German, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1950.

Painter, lithographer, performance artist, photographer. Artists' books.

Fluxus.

Wolf Adam Bottinelli trained at the art academy in Kassel. He appears to have a very free idea of the act of creation, which has brought him close to the ...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 7 March 1926, in Halfway (Oregon); died 5 December 2008, in Cologne.

Painter, sculptor. Multimedia.

Neo-Dadaism, Fluxus.

From 1946 to 1950, George Brecht studied physical sciences at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy & Science, and from 1950 to 1955, he trained as a chemist. He met John Cage in ...

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

Austrian, 20th century, male.

Born 1938, in Ardring.

Action artist, happenings artist, performance artist, draughtsman.

Fluxus, Body Art.

Aktionismus group.

Günter Brus studied from 1953 in Graz and Vienna and went on in the 1960s to become one of the principal figures in the Viennese Aktionismus (Actionist) School which proclaimed the concept of artistic freedom and mourned its incompatibility with the sclerotic bourgeois society of the post-Nazi years. He took part in various 'happenings' in ...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 1912, in Los Angeles; died 1992.

Painter, printmaker.

Neo-Dadaism, Fluxus.

John Cage is best known as an avant-garde composer and musician. As a member of the Fluxus group he took part in many of their happenings and was therefore at the heart of various artistic activities that extended into the visual arts. His introduction of the notion of chance into music coincided with the same approach in painting. He also used painting and print making as a means of expression and in Milan in ...

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

Swedish, 20th century, male.

Active since 1960 active in France.

Born 1937, in Jönköping; died 28 June 2002.

Painter, sculptor, draughtsman.

Fluxus (related to).

Nouveaux Réalistes group (related to).

After studying at the fine arts academy in Malmö, Erik Dietman went to Paris in 1959...

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

Erró  

Ađalsteinn Ingólfsson

[GuÐmundsson, GuÐmundur]

(b Ólafsvík, July 19, 1932).

Icelandic painter. He studied at the Myndlista-og handíÐaskóli Íslands (Icelandic School of Arts and Crafts, Reykjavík, 1949–51) and the Kunstakademi, Oslo (1952–4), where he specialized in fresco painting and printmaking. He undertook further studies in painting and mosaic at the Accademie in Florence and Ravenna (1954–7). He settled in Paris in 1958, later dividing his time between Paris, Bangkok, the Mediterranean island of Formentera and Reykjavík. During his period of study he undertook numerous experiments with style, which coalesced in Italy as a polemic figuration in the Carcasses series (e.g. Black Bull, 1956; Jerusalem, Israel Mus.)

A cosmopolitan and eclectic artist, Erró developed his work from his study of Old Masters such as Uccello and Bosch, and his close association with the Chilean Surrealist Roberto Matta in 1959. Photomontages and assemblages of found objects underlay his continued interest in Surrealist techniques. In the early 1960s, prompted by repeated visits to the USA, Erró began using popular imagery. In common with other artists associated with ...

Article

French, 20th century, male.

Active also active in Germany.

Born 1926, in Sauve; died 2 December 1987, in Les Eyzies (Dordogne).

Installation artist, performance artist, video artist. Multimedia.

Neo-Dadaism, Fluxus, Conceptual Art, Mail Art (forerunner).

The French artist Robert Filliou was closely associated with the Fluxus group, his career embracing French, German and American developments. Having moved to the USA in ...

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

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 ...