The History of Fluxus
Starting from the dawn of the 1950s, an art movement of the avant-garde category sprang up with the activities of certain artists that were disconnected from the discriminatory tendencies that the world of arts harbored at that period. These artists became inclined to Dadaists and Futurists as their source of inspiration, channeling their concentration on their artistic part.
The use of humor by the Dadaists arts was decisive in the birth of the Fluxus philosophy. The two most important driving forces that heralded the Fluxus arts were John Cage and Marcel Duchamp. These two artists pioneered an artistic genre that involves the use of common things such as our everyday elements and objects, and this became the basic operational methods upon which Fluxus artists hinge their practice.
The term Proto-Fluxus is often used by artists to denote the early periods of the Fluxus movement, which started in 1959 with the coming together of certain artists who previously attended a class John Cage took at The New School in New York. These talented artists called their band the New York Audio Visual Group. They ensured that venues are provided for the performance and experimentation of their arts. Jackson Mac Low, Dick Higgins, and Al Hansen were all linked with this group and at a later time become memebers of the Fluxus movement.
The driving force behind the inchoate movement is frequently attributed to George Maciunas and he had the reputation of always being in the performance venues with the audience. The nomenclature of Fluxus which literally translates as “to flow” is also accredited to George Maciunas. The AG Gallery was the first venue where the Fluxus event took place and this happened in 1961 and Maciunas was the organizer. This event is popularly known as Bread and AG. This marked the first event in the series of events that occurred at the AG Gallery that year.
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The Ideas, Inclinations and Methods of Fluxus
Maciunas is reputable for his rigid opinions that he often forcefully and frequently voice out and this became the bone of contention between him and some of other members of the Fluxus movement. George expressed his opinions in Fluxus manifestos where he claimed that institutional forms of fine arts should be gotten rid of completely. Jackson Mac Low and some other Fluxus artists had contrasting opinions.
It was rather unfortunate that Maciunas was an ineffective leader who based on his own personally whims without due consultations, decided to expel artists from Fluxus. Maciunas had no control in sacking artists from Fluxus for the slightest misunderstandings. Mac Low was also a victim of Maciunas who in 1963, got rid of him from Fluxus. Nam June Paik, Dick Higgins and Alison Knowles were also sacked a year later.
When critically considered, it is true that there were a group of artists that were known as Fluxus, but what is also certain is that all of them have their own considered opinions which are certainly different from each other.
The Fluxus events consists of the participation of the audience which is a way of including them in the art making process. This was the case of the Yoko Ono and the John Lennon Fluxfest presentation in 1970 which had Maciunas preparing for the audience, paper masks of Yoko Ono and John Lennon. The role of the spectator as an observer was reassigned to that of a performer.
The practice of using the audience as the focal point of the piece was part of his personal philosophy that “arts can be done by anyone and with anything”. He also held the opinion that worth of amusement derived from arts must be decreased by mass-producing it, unrestricting it, produced by all and accessible by all.
Even though Fluxus is majorly associated with organized events and performances, the Fluxus artists have also been seen creating forms of art that are becoming increasingly more plastic; things like boxes that have loaded with numerous items, Fluxus films and prints. These artworks were sometimes left unsigned because Maciunas championed the opinion that there should be a detachment of the artist’s ego from their arts. This means that the only signature that a Fluxus artwork may bear is “Fluxus”.
Zen and Fluxus: The Connection?
Zen is a Buddhist philosophy of the Japanese origins that centers on the vitality of the present moment and on meditation. This philosophy holds that every moment in life are all equally important and no one moment is more important than the other. This philosophy obviously had a strong influence on of John Cage who championed the equality of values with arts instead of uplifting the everyday artistic experiences. This philosophical teaching increases the awareness of artists of their immediate environment. This is a direct teaching of Buddhism and it centers on the significance of being aware of the environment and being ware of every of life’s moment.
The adherents of the Fluxus movement are continuously seeking to imbibe this philosophy to their artworks. This idea was birthed in New School in one of John Cage’s class where certain artists imitated this philosophy in their Fluxus artworks.
Aside desiring a change in the elitist arts, the flip side of Fluxus was to attain an illuminated state that reeks of arts so much that life and art would be meticulously unified so that there would be no appreciable difference between them. It is true that Maciunas was once noted stating that Fluxus is more Zen-like than Dada-like. But then, it was also obvious that Maciunas took the Zen part of Fluxus with a pinch of salt and more involved with a nonsensical, political and anti-art stance.
Fluxus Developments :- history of Fluxus
The end of Fluxus quickly followed the death of Maciunas himself in 1978 or at least some few years later.
The influence of the Fluxus movement echoes loud predominantly because of the resurfacings of Street art and Graffiti, Land art, and Performance art with some of those artists that intentionally worked outside museum systems. Artists such as Banksy is one good example of an artists that is still adhering to the Fluxus philosophy.