Originating in the early 1960s, Fluxus is an art movement that thrived throughout the sixties well into the seventies. Heavily influenced by Dadaist concepts, Fluxus was characterized by imaginative experimentation and also influenced by the era’s political climate. There is a definitive social element to many Fluxus works created by artists that could also be termed activists. Fluxus flourished as an international art movement with heavy pockets of popularity in countries like the U.S., U.K., France, Sweden, and the Netherlands.
Artists aligning themselves with the Fluxus movement avoided the limitation of artistic theories and aesthetics. Many Fluxus art works employed multi-media elements; collage and found poems, for instance, were favorite forms among Fluxus artists. Yet the movement even included music and performance within its umbrella of forms and merging forms. Taken as a whole, Fluxus promoters strove to remove the superficial qualities of art in their mode of expression.
Fluxus was conceived by George Maciunas, a Lithuanian artist born in Kaunas, Lithuania. Not only did he describe early principles of Fluxus which might best be described as neo-Dadaism, he was instrumental in gathering an international group of artists like Wolf Vostell, George Brecht, Yoko Ono, and others to participate in the movement. In the early 1960s, Maciunas organized Fluxfests to promote the movement and showcase its artistic examples. Music played a vital role in these fests; however, the term music is to be loosely applied when considering Fluxus. Performances might feature ‘silent orchestras’ or various artists plucking or even dropping items at random to create sound.
By the mid-1960s, Yoko Ono and other Japanese artists began to influence the movement with Asian sensibilities and introduced the element of nature to many Fluxus works. Even so, a common thread of both early and later works of Fluxus was the sense of anti-art contained in each; many Fluxus artists, many of whom were women, used their art forms to poke fun at other forms of Modern Art. Fluxus works tended to be humorous, simple, and shunned more complex and contrived modes of Modern Art.
Aside from those mentioned above, some of the most celebrated Fluxus artists include Ay-O, Dieter Roth, Franz Kamin, Takako Saito, John Cage, Alice Hutchins, and Nam June Paik. The strong intermedia nature of Fluxus led to a wide variety of works and performances. Notable performance works include Yoko Ono’s “Cut Piece” and Phil Corner’s “Piano Activities.”