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Fluxus Collage

Fluxus

Started: 1959

Ended: 1978

Fluxus Timeline

Important Art and Artists of Fluxus

The below artworks are the most important in Fluxus - that both overview the major ideas of the movement, and highlight the greatest achievements by each artist in Fluxus. Don't forget to visit the artist overview pages of the artists that interest you.

Cut Piece (1964-1966)
Artwork Images

Cut Piece (1964-1966)

Artist: Yoko Ono

Artwork description & Analysis: Cut Piece puts the artist at the mercy of the audience: Ono invited the audience to cut away her clothing as she sat completely still and expressionless on stage. The interaction between artist and viewer is unequivocally intimate, as the viewer completely invades the personal space of the artist, literally cutting away the boundary between the self and the other. Control is literally in the hands of the audience member who holds the scissors, and the outcome of the piece changed each time it was performed. This particular piece likely influenced Marina Abramovic's Rhythm O, though Abramovic took this concept even further, presenting the audience with items to use on her body as they wished, including a knife and a loaded gun, which one audience member pointed at her head.

Optimistic Box #3 - So much the better if you can't play chess (you won't imitate Marcel Duchamp) (1969)
Artwork Images

Optimistic Box #3 - So much the better if you can't play chess (you won't imitate Marcel Duchamp) (1969)

Artist: Robert Filliou

Artwork description & Analysis: Optimistic Box #3 is an actual fold-up chess set similar to Dada readymades but in this instance the viewer is invited to interact with the artwork. In order to see the entire text, one has to open the box to continue reading. The interior verse is a tip of the hat to Marcel Duchamp, the artist who conceived the readymades. While this piece is an object and not a performance, it still incorporates the Fluxus ideals; nonsensical humor and a lack of boundary between the art and the viewer. The significance of this piece is in its insistence that the viewer interact with it, unlike traditional art objects in a museum context in which touching is forbidden.

Wooden box

Total Art Matchbox (1966)
Artwork Images

Total Art Matchbox (1966)

Artist: Ben Vautier

Artwork description & Analysis: The piece is a box of matches with "directions" printed on the cover stating, "USE THESE MATCHES TO DESTROY ALL ART - MUSEUMS ART LIBRARY'S - READY-MADES - POP-ART AND AS I BEN SIGNED EVERYTHING WORK OF ART - BURN - ANYTHING - KEEP LAST MATCH FOR THIS MATCH -" This piece literally proclaims the Fluxus belief in anti-art and is one of many "editions" manufactured. Often Fluxus artists would produce a large number of identical pieces to deliberately devalue the object. It can be assumed that many of these boxes were burned as per the instructions on the cover, the involvement of the viewer completing the piece.

Matchbox and matches

Zen for Film (1964/1965)
Artwork Images

Zen for Film (1964/1965)

Artist: Nam June Paik

Artwork description & Analysis: Zen for Film is an example of another Fluxus medium. It is an eight-minute film showing nothing but a white screen with occasional scratches and graininess flickering across the viewers' field of vision. Even though it is a film, it follows the general consistency of Fluxus art, which is usually simple, ironic, and succinct. Just as Cage used silence as part of his musical compositions, Paik is using an absence of imagery as the work of art. It has a distinct Zen sensibility, as it encourages meditative interiority, as opposed to active involvement.

Film

Licking Piece (1964)
Artwork Images

Licking Piece (1964)

Artist: Benjamin Patterson

Artwork description & Analysis: The sly directions for Patterson's Licking Piece state, "cover shapely female with whipped cream, lick, topping of chopped nuts and cherries is optional." As in Ono's Cut Piece, again the boundary between viewer and artwork is removed. Here the frisson of sexual tension is made nearly grotesquely apparent (the act of licking, the specifics that it be a "shapely female"). It is not the artist who is made vulnerable, it is his "shapely female" he puts in a fairly uncomfortable position. The piece was performed on several occasions, touching on the subjects of the erotic, objectification, and misogyny.

"Shapely female" and whipped cream

Make a Salad (1962)
Artwork Images

Make a Salad (1962)

Artist: Alison Knowles

Artwork description & Analysis: In Make a Salad the participants are instructed to make a salad. The act of creation as the focus of the work, and the repetitive, nearly meditative actions of the participants, mark this piece as distinctly drawing from the more Zen-influenced aspects of Fluxus practice. The piece has a vital auditory component: the noise made by the chopping of vegetables and the rustling of lettuce leaves is to be considered as musical and beautiful as if one was listening to actual instruments performing a symphony, a notion coming directly from composer John Cage.

Vegetables, knives, bowls



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Fluxus Image

Related Art and Artists

Theater Piece No. 1 (1952)
Artwork Images

Theater Piece No. 1 (1952)

Movement: Neo-Dada

Artist: John Cage

Artwork description & Analysis: Cage's Theater Piece No. 1, also known as simply "The Event," was a seminal performance for the evolution of Neo-Dada, paving the way for the movement's signature collaborations and multimedia basis. Conceived by Cage, the piece involved several simultaneous, unscripted performance components including a poetry reading, music, dance, photographic slide projections, film, and four panels of Robert Rauschenberg's White Paintings (1951) suspended from the ceiling in the shape of a cross. While Cage set certain guidelines for which medium each performer used, he let each individual artist determine the specifics of their role within the performance, emphasizing the function of chance in determining the course of the event. The aspects were all integral to the development of the Neo-Dada aesthetic as well as later performance art, and were encapsulated within this one work in which many of the key artists within the Neo-Dada movement played integral roles.

Multimedia performance event - Performed at Black Mountain College

Coyote: I Like America and America Likes Me (1974)
Artwork Images

Coyote: I Like America and America Likes Me (1974)

Movement: Performance Art

Artist: Joseph Beuys

Artwork description & Analysis: For three consecutive days in May, 1974, Beuys enclosed himself in a gallery with a wild coyote. Having previously announced that he would not enter the United States while the Vietnam War proceeded, this piece was his first and only action in America, and Beuys was ferried between the airport and the gallery in an ambulance to ensure that his feet did not have to touch American soil. Coyote centered on ideas of America wild and tamed. In an attempt to connect with an idea of wild, pre-colonial America, Beuys lived with a coyote for several days, attempting to communicate with it. He organized a sequence of interactions that would repeat for the duration of the piece, such as cloaking himself in felt and using a cane as a "lightening rod," and following the coyote around the room, bent at the waist and keeping the cane pointed at the coyote. Copies of The Wall Street Journal arrived daily, and were used as a toilet by the coyote, as if to say, "everything that claims to be a part of America is part of my territory."

- Performed at Rene Block Gallery, New York NY

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Content compiled and written by Tracy DiTolla

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Movement Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Tracy DiTolla
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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