Fluxus was a loose confederation of international artists in the 1960s working in performance, painting, sculpture, poetry, experimental music, and even correspondence art (art sent through the postal service). It was often, though not exclusively, political in tone. Fluxus works shared similarities with the “Happenings” of Allan Kaprow, particularly in the way they blurred distinctions between art and life. In doing so, Fluxus transformed art from an object of aesthetic contemplation to a gesture of political action. The actions of these artists laid the groundwork for Conceptual art and performance art in the decades to come, and Fluxus shared members with other movements, such as Neo-Dada and video art.
a flow of fluids and discharge—were interrupted by his handwritten political statements calling for a fusion between art and reality.
“… the nature of my sculpture is not fixed or finished … Everything is in a state of change.” Joseph Beuys
While it might be an overstatement to say that the Fluxus movement revolutionized the art world or the real world in the ways that Maciunas called for in his manifesto, it did help to radically change notions of what art could be. With their work, the Fluxus artists pushed art well outside of mainstream venues like galleries and museums. Their informal, spontaneous, and often ephemeral pieces were not only difficult to collect and codify; they were also sometimes hard to recognize as art. But museums and galleries eventually caught up and absorbed their work. So too did younger generations of artists, who continue to build on the freedom that the movement introduced into artmaking with their own work. The next time you walk into an art space and find a pot of curry bubbling on a burner (as in the well-known piece, Untitled (Free), 1992, by the Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija) or a sculpture composed of things you might find in your own home, thank Fluxus for helping to lay the groundwork.