YOKO ONO: Film No. 1: Match (1966) ©1966 Yoko Ono

Fluxus and the Essential Questions of Life

February 25-May 20, 2012

Fluxus emerged in the early 1960s as a loose, international network of artists, composers, and designers-“led” by Lithuanian-born American artist George Maciunas (1931-1978)- that was noted for blurring the boundaries between art and life.

George Brecht, American, 1926-2008, Exit, 1961, realized as sign about 1962-63, metal sign mounted on painted wood with metal screws. The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, U.S.A. © 2011 Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn. Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art / Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY.

Fluxus artists like Maciunas, Nam June Paik, George Brecht, and Yoko Ono, among many others, challenged the notion of high art by creating unassuming, often humorous objects and performances that redefined the terms of artistic production by demonstrating the idea that “anything can be art and anyone can do it.”

Ken Friedman, A Flux Corsage, 1966-76, clear plastic box with paper label containing seeds. Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, George Maciunas Memorial Collection: Gift of the Friedman Family; GM.986.80.40.

Because of their disregard for traditional artistic media, many of the objects in the exhibition are-often by design-acutely resistant to conventional forms of museum display. Variously conceived as carriers of ideas, absurdist send-ups of consumer products, and invitations to direct, playful participation by the viewer, these works attempt to undermine the idea that art is separate from the activity of living one’s life.

George Maciunas, Gift Box for John Cage: Spell Your Name with These Objects, 1972, leather- covered, red velvet-lined box containing fifteen objects (acorn, egg, glass stopper, plastic boxes of seeds, etc.). Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, George Maciunas Memorial Collection: Gift of John Cage; GM.978.204.2 © Courtesy of Billie Maciunas.

Through 116 works, Fluxus and the Essential Questions of Life will introduce visitors to the study and appreciation of art as an exciting and intellectually rewarding experience, and to the notion that art is something that can play an active role in their own approaches to life’s essential questions.

George Maciunas, Burglary Fluxkit, 1971, seven-compartment clear plastic box with white paper label containing seven keys, including a roller-skate key. Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, George Maciunas Memorial Collection: Gift of the Friedman Family; GM.986.80.164. © Courtesy of Billie Maciunas.

This exhibition was organized by the Hood Museum of Art and was generously supported by Constance and Walter Burke, Dartmouth College Class of 1944, the Marie-Louise and Samuel R. Rosenthal Fund, and the Ray Winfield Smith 1918 Fund. UMMA’s installation is made possible in part by the University of Michigan Health System, the University of Michigan Office of the Provost, Arts at Michigan, and the CEW Frances and Sydney Lewis Visiting Leaders Fund.

The University of Michigan Museum of Art

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