Fluxus – Definition, Examples, History & More – Art Theory Glossary

What is Fluxus?

Fluxus is an avant-garde art movement that emerged in the early 1960s. It was characterized by a spirit of rebellion against traditional art forms and a desire to blur the boundaries between art and everyday life. Fluxus artists sought to create art that was accessible to everyone and challenged the notion of what art could be.

Fluxus artworks often took the form of performances, events, and objects that encouraged audience participation. The movement was influenced by Dada, Surrealism, and the happenings of the 1950s, but it also had its own unique approach to art-making.

Origins of Fluxus

Fluxus was founded by the Lithuanian-born artist George Maciunas in New York City in 1961. Maciunas was inspired by the ideas of composer John Cage and artist Marcel Duchamp, as well as the experimental music and performance scenes of the time.

The name “Fluxus” was derived from the Latin word for “flow” or “flux,” reflecting the movement’s emphasis on change and movement. Maciunas saw Fluxus as a way to break down the barriers between art and life and create a more democratic and inclusive art world.

Key Figures in Fluxus

Some of the key figures in the Fluxus movement include artists such as Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, George Brecht, and Dick Higgins. These artists were known for their innovative and experimental approaches to art-making, as well as their willingness to challenge traditional notions of art.

Yoko Ono, in particular, played a significant role in Fluxus with her performance art pieces and conceptual works. Nam June Paik was known for his pioneering work in video art, while George Brecht and Dick Higgins were instrumental in developing Fluxus events and performances.

Fluxus art is characterized by its emphasis on simplicity, humor, and interactivity. Fluxus artists often used everyday objects and materials in their work, such as newspapers, rubber bands, and kitchen utensils. They also incorporated elements of chance and randomness into their art, allowing for unexpected and spontaneous outcomes.

Performance was a key aspect of Fluxus art, with artists staging events and happenings that invited audience participation. These performances often blurred the boundaries between art and life, challenging viewers to rethink their ideas about what art could be.

Impact and Legacy of Fluxus

Fluxus had a significant impact on the art world, influencing a wide range of artists and movements in the decades that followed. The movement’s emphasis on experimentation, collaboration, and audience participation paved the way for the development of performance art, conceptual art, and installation art.

Fluxus also had a lasting legacy in the field of music, with many Fluxus artists incorporating sound and music into their work. The movement’s influence can be seen in the work of contemporary artists such as Laurie Anderson, Christian Marclay, and Marina Abramović.

Criticisms of Fluxus

Despite its innovative and groundbreaking nature, Fluxus has not been without its critics. Some have argued that Fluxus artworks are too simplistic or lacking in depth, while others have criticized the movement for being too focused on shock value and provocation.

Additionally, some have questioned the political implications of Fluxus, suggesting that the movement’s emphasis on playfulness and experimentation may have distracted from more pressing social issues. However, supporters of Fluxus argue that the movement’s emphasis on freedom, creativity, and inclusivity remains relevant and important in today’s art world.