Fluxus Art

“Fluxus means change, among other things. The Fluxus of 1992 is not the Fluxus of 1962 and if it pretends to be – then it is a fake. The real Fluxus moves out from its old center into many directions, and the paths are not easy to recognize without lining up new pieces, middle pieces and old pieces together.” – Dick Higgins

Fluxus is an art movement that began in the 1960s. It merged groups of artists from all over the world into one international community of artists, architects, composers, and designers who denied traditional forms of art and worked in noise music and visual art, avant-garde literature, architecture and even urban planning. They organized events and performances to present their work. George Maciunas is considered to be one of the founders of Fluxus. The word “fluxus” was taken from Latin and literally means “to flow.” Usually “Fluxus” is used to describe one of the most radical and experimental art movements of the postwar period.

Fluxus took principles from Dadaism and Pop Art, including the use of collage technique and the incorporation of the factor of chance. Fluxus ignored art theories and aesthetic objectives, and its mixed-media artworks can be created from any found materials. In Fluxus an artwork is not the result of creativity, but is instead involved with process, concept and idea. In other words Fluxus artists shifted the importance and emphasis from what an artist creates to the artist’s actions, opinions, and emotions. Famous German Fluxus artist Joseph Beuys stated that everybody can be an artist, because everything can be called an artwork.

In order to get a clearer understanding of Fluxus we will look at one of the classic pieces associated with the movement, “Piano Piece” by Nam June Paik, a composer, performer and video artist, presented in 1993. “Piano” involved getting a piano onto the stage and having attractively dressed artists nail keys into the sounding board with huge rusty studs. In the finale, by which time there were no un-nailed keys, the disfigured instrument was proclaimed a sculpture and offered for sale.

There are four factors that are typical of the majority of Fluxus works: Fluxus is an attitude; Fluxus is intermedia; Fluxus works are simple (art – small, texts – short, performances – brief); Fluxus is fun.

Fluxus had a burning aspiration to destroy the borders of the art world. It was a way of perceiving the world and society, a mode of social behavior and a life activity. Fluxus theorists insisted that art cannot exist beyond the game, and seriousness was pelted with stones, so to speak. The new movement claimed the role of catalyst, producing waves that affected art and the interpretation of life. It was successful, giving rise to events and performances as form of art, and showing that artwork can be a combination of different art techniques. In fact, without the Fluxus movement it is not obvious that video art would occupy the important place it now does in contemporary art.

Originally, when it first appeared, the art market despised Fluxus, but now it is appreciated as the forerunner of lots of contemporary art movements and given the respect it deserves for the influential role that it played.