Fluxus East

Fluxus Networks in Central Eastern Europe

George Maciunas

1931, born in Kaunas, Lithuania
1978, died in New Marlborough

In 1948, Maciunas and his family emigrated to the USA after a brief period in Germany. At various universities there, he studied art history, graphic art, architecture, musical theory and European and Siberian Art of Migrations from 1949 to 1960. From his student days on, Maciunas was deeply interested in the systematisation of knowledge using numerous diagrams, atlases and charts.

In 1960, when Maciunas was still involved in the Lithuanian diaspora of New York, he conceived his first plans to publish a magazine called Fluxus. As from 1961, in the AG Gallery in New York that he ran together with Almus Salcius, he organised concerts with artists like Dick Higgins, Yoko Ono and Jackson Mac Low, which can be categorised as Pre- or Proto-Fluxus. In 1961, he moved to Germany (Wiesbaden) and met Emmett Williams, Nam June Paik, Ben Patterson and Wolf Vostell. In September 1962, the first series of concerts organised by Maciunas Fluxus – International Festival of Newest Music took place in Wiesbaden, attracting considerable attention and unsettling the public, mainly due to the complete destruction of a concert grand piano (the performance was of the piece Piano Activities by Philip Corner). As a fervent Communist, at this time Maciunas was also committed to the union of “revolutionary-realist artists” with the “revolutionary-realist society” of the USSR as the main aim of Fluxus. However, numerous plans for travel to or even the complete transfer of the Fluxus “collective” to the former Eastern Bloc were not realised. Having returned to the USA in 1963, Maciunas continued to be the main organiser of numerous Fluxus events and the self-​appointed President of Fluxus. There was serious discord within the Fluxus network in 1964, due to Maciunas’ and Henry Flynt’s protest actions against Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Originale.

Maciunas published numerous editions by the artists of the network (which he himself designed strikingly), and as from 1966, he planned the Fluxhousing Cooperative, which established Soho as an artists’ quarter. In 1975, Maciunas withdrew to New Marlborough, Massachusetts, where he died of cancer at the age of forty-six in 1978.

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