Fluxus

Fluxus Collage
Started: 1959
Ended: 1978
Main
In Fluxus there has never been any attempt to agree on aims or methods; individuals with something unnamable in common have simply naturally coalesced to publish and perform their work. Perhaps this common thing is a feeling that the bounds of art are much wider than they have conventionally seemed, or that art and certain long established bounds are no longer very useful.
1 of 6
George Brecht Signature
The misunderstandings have seemed to come from comparing Fluxus with movements or groups whose individuals seem to have some principle in common or an agreed upon program.
2 of 6
George Brecht Signature
Purge the world of bourgeoisie sickness, "intellectual," professional and commercialized culture, purge the world of dead art, imitation, artificial art, abstract art, illusionistic art, mathematical art, - PURGE THE WORLD OF "EUROPANISM!" PROMOTE A REVOLUTIONARY FLOOD AND TIDE IN ART, promote living art, anti-art, promote NON ART REALITY to be fully grasped by all peoples, not only critics, dilettantes and professionals.
3 of 6
George Maciunas, from the Fluxus Manifesto
I've always thought of Fluxus as remarkable for its offering of collaboration with so-called ordinary people as well as Fluxus artists.
4 of 6
Alison Knowles
My first concert - apart from Beethoven at School and Satie at the opening of my exhibition in Kleve in 1960 - was at the gallery Parnass in Wuppertal in 1963. Dressed like a regular pianist in dark grey flannel, black tie and no hat, I played the piano all over – not just the keys – with many pairs of old shoes until it disintegrated. My intention was neither destructive nor nihilistic. 'Heal like with like' – similia similibus curantur – in the homeopathic sense. The main intention was to indicate a new beginning.. ..or simply a revolutionary act. This was my first public Fluxus appearance.
5 of 6
Joseph Beuys on his first Fluxus Experience
Fluxus is the 'event' according to George Brecht:
putting the flower vase on the piano.
fluxus is the action of life/music:
sending for a tango expert in order to be able to dance on stage.
fluxus is the creation of a relationship between life and art, fluxus is gag, pleasure and shock, fluxus is an attitude towards art, towards the non-art of anti-art, towards the negation of one’s ego, fluxus is the major part of the education as to john cage, dadaism and zen, fluxus is light and has a sense of humor.
6 of 6
Ben Vautier from Text on Fluxus

Summary of Fluxus

Fluxus was a loosely organized group of artists that spanned the globe, but had an especially strong presence in New York City. George Maciunas is historically considered the primary founder and organizer of the movement, who described Fluxus as, "a fusion of Spike Jones, gags, games, Vaudeville, Cage and Duchamp." Like the Futurists and Dadaists before them, Fluxus artists did not agree with the authority of museums to determine the value of art, nor did they believe that one must be educated to view and understand a piece of art. Fluxus not only wanted art to be available to the masses, they also wanted everyone to produce art all the time. It is often difficult to define Fluxus, as many Fluxus artists claim that the act of defining the movement is, in fact, too limiting and reductive.

Key Ideas & Accomplishments

Key Artists

Overview of Fluxus

Fluxus Image

Saying, “Art is sort of an experimental station in which one tries out living,” John Cage created innovative pieces like his 4’33” - where a musician sat silently present for four minutes, 33 seconds, while the audience heard only the room’s random ambient noise. Emphasizing performance, created by chance, he became a founding inspiration for Fluxus.

Important Art and Artists of Fluxus

Yoko Ono: Cut Piece (1964-66)

Cut Piece (1964-66)

Artist: Yoko Ono

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.

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

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

Artist: Robert Filliou

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.

Ben Vautier: Total Art Matchbox (1966)

Total Art Matchbox (1966)

Artist: Ben Vautier

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.

Useful Resources on Fluxus

Content compiled and written by Tracy DiTolla

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

"Fluxus Movement Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Tracy DiTolla
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
Available from:
First published on 21 Jan 2012. Updated and modified regularly
[Accessed ]