International avant-garde group of artists founded in Germany by U.S. artist George Maciunas (1931–78) in 1962.

Its members, including Joseph Beuys, John Cage, and Yves Klein, explored media ranging from performance art to poetry to experimental music. Opposed to tradition and professionalism in the arts, the Fluxus group shifted the emphasis from what an artist makes to the artist's personality, actions, and opinions. Throughout the 1960s and '70s they staged "action" events, engaged in politics and public speaking, and produced sculptural works featuring unconventional materials. Though it was an influential movement in Europe, the group's work frequently conflicted with authority and aroused much controversy.

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      a loose international group of artists, poets, and musicians whose primary aesthetic impulse was to integrate life into art through the use of found events, sounds, and materials. More than 40 artists were associated with Fluxus, whose original intent was to produce a periodical anthologizing the latest experiments across the world in art and anti-art, music and anti-music, and poetry and anti-poetry.

      The name Fluxus, meant to suggest both “flow” and “effluent,” was coined by Fluxus founder George Maciunas (1931–78), a Lithuanian American designer and “cultural entrepreneur.” Maciunas used the word fluxus to describe a wide range of his activities, from a published call for a common front of artists against culture to a New York artists' housing association, as well as a publishing concern that produced ephemeral, interactive multiples and staged live events called “happenings” that were precursors to performance art, video art, and other avant-garde art forms.

      In its early years, from 1962 to 1966, Fluxus fused conceptual art, minimalism, new music, poetry, and chance-based work into an intermedia phenomenon, identifiable more through its irreverent attitude toward art than through the use of any distinct style. Utilizing humour—in the spirit of Dada—and everyday materials and experiences, Fluxus created original and often surprising objects and events. The Fluxus event, sometimes a minimal live gesture initially presented as part of a concert or poetry reading, was researched and developed in part from ideas collected by American experimental musician La Monte Young and published by him and American poet and playwright Jackson Mac Low in 1963 as An Anthology of Chance Operations…. This publication—which collected “chance operations, concept art, anti-art, indeterminacy, plans of action, diagrams, music, dance constructions, improvisation, meaningless work, natural disasters, compositions, mathematics, essays, [and] poetry”—was designed by Maciunas and formed much of the material for his “Festum Fluxorum,” a European tour of 1962–63 during which Fluxus became an official movement and its international character was confirmed.

      From 1964 Maciunas designed, produced, and promoted hundreds of multiples: a remarkable range of objects from tiny books of compositions to uniquely altered attaché cases with compartments full of games in small plastic boxes, plus films, records, jokes, miniature environments, posters, and charts using imagery publicly available from the New York Public Library. All Fluxus production was driven by a utilitarian philosophy in which colour, scale, material, and font were secondary to affordability and available space, a format that brought coherence to the otherwise heterogeneous Fluxus style. More than 30 individuals, from Christo (Christo and Jeanne-Claude) to Yoko Ono, collaborated with Maciunas, who interpreted their ideas, whether for a chess set or an apron, into multiple forms. Produced on demand by hand, using volunteer labour and the cheapest material, these provocative and amusing items were deliberately ephemeral, inexpensively priced, and intended for use rather than display.

Additional Reading
H. Sohm and Harald Szeemann, Happening & Fluxus (1970), is an exhibition catalog in English and German. Harry Ruhé, Fluxus, the Most Radical and Experimental Art Movement of the Sixties (1979), is another publication by a member of Fluxus. Jon Hendricks (compiler), Fluxus Codex (1988), contains a catalog of a major collection of Fluxus materials. Later works that examine the context and influence of the movement include Elizabeth Armstrong and Joan Rothfuss, In the Spirit of Fluxus (1993), an exhibition catalog; Ken Friedman (ed.), The Fluxus Reader (1998); and Hannah Higgins, Fluxus Experience (2002).

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Universalium. 2010.

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