Country:   Lithuania
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Sound Object
George Maciunas is an American artist best known as Fluxus’ organizer and de-facto leader. While Fluxus has come to be understood as an artistic movement, Maciunas’s myriad projects and initiatives extended far beyond the bounds of art to encompass a much broader range of activities. After formal training and professional experience in the fields of architecture, graphic design, musicology, and art history, he ventured with a spirit of vehement entrepreneurship and thrift into such disparate fields as gallery work, sales of canned foods and musical instruments, art and architectural practice and criticism, writing, interior design, real estate development, and archive organization. The diversity of these pursuits is a testament to Maciunas’s creativity, his eclecticism, and his belief that art should be understood in more expansive terms. He was committed to operating at the intersection between art and life, and his artistic and economic ventures had a long-lasting effect in many different areas. Perhaps the venture that has been the most visible to the general public is Maciunas’s pioneering of the revival of SoHo starting in the late 1960s. MACIUNAS’S LIFE Education: Maciunas was born in Kaunas, Lithuania on November 8, 1931. His family emigrated to the US in 1948, settling in a middleclass neighborhood on Long Island. A bright and ambitious student with aspirations to become a professor, Maciunas spent eleven intensive years in academia, studying graphic design at Cooper Union, architecture at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, and Art History and history of ancient cultures at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. His extensive schooling is testament to Maciunas’s wide-ranging intellectual passions. Fluxus: Maciunas served as a figurehead and focal point of the emerging avant-garde in New York in the 1960’s. He collaborated with and encouraged the activities of an impressive host of art figures, including George Brecht, Nam June Paik, Joseph Beuys, Yoko Ono, Ben Vautier, Wolf Vostell, Paul Sharits, Dick Higgins, Bob Watts, La Monte Young, Mac Low, Allison Knowles, Stan Vanderbeek, Robert Filliou, among many others. Heavily influenced by Marcel Duchamp and John Cage, these artists used humor, printed text, and expanded notions of performance to forward the notion that the distinction between art and everyday life is arbitrary. Maciunas himself organized many performances, or Flux Concerts, and produced a wide array of eclectic “publications” such as Fluxboxes, which contained graphic cards, small objects, scores, and other staples of Fluxus art all of which he funded and produced anonymously. He founded and co-owned the AG Gallery devoted to showing Fluxus art and hosting Fluxus Performances. The Fluxhouse Co-operatives: Maciunas considered his work as an artist and Fluxus impresario to fall more within the realm of industrial and product design, declaring that art should have a functional objective rather than being a rarified cultural artifact. In 1966, Maciunas began a venture that would have a profound and lasting impact on the city of New York. With initial support from the J.M. Kaplan Foundation who were trying to break the city’s zoning legislation designating SoHo as an industrial neighborhood and the National Foundation for the Arts (both withdrawn after Maciunas’s purchase of his first loft building at 80 Wooster St.), Maciunas purchased several former factory buildings in the South Houston Industrial District and converted them into the Fluxhouse Cooperatives, affordable studio and residential space for artists. Maciunas sponsered cooperatives on Prince Street, Broome Street, and along West Broadway, a total of eleven cooperative units involving seventeen buildings. In doing so, Maciunas paved the way for the renaissance of what would later come to be known as Soho. Architecture: As is evident from his undergraduate studies at Cooper Union, Maciunas’s architectural interests extended beyond renovating loft buildings. Over the course of the 50’s and 60’s, Maciunas was employed by renowned firms such as Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Olin Matheson Chemical Corp., Knoll Associates and APEX. He developed a plan for a prefabricated mass housing system. He created designs for a house minimal in its form, and maximal in its function and efficiency. He stipulated the use of lightweight, widely available materials and developed his designs with an eye towards maximally efficient and sustainable assembly. It is remarkable the degree to which these designs anticipate current trends in architecture spurred by a growing environmental awareness. Legacy: Maciunas died of liver and pancreatic cancer in May 1978 at the premature age of 47. He faced many struggles in the last decades of his life. A severe asthmatic and a sickly man for much of his adult life, Maciunas took many pills every day to combat his various ailments (“he says he’s so full of medicines and drugs and cortisone that bugs do not bite him, and those that do drop dead immediately”). With Maciunas’s death, the world lost one of the Twentieth Century’s most unique and inspired artists, architects, entrepreneurs, and all the other roles Maciunas fulfilled throughout his life. His work has influenced a new generation of artists, some of whom work explicitly under the heading of “Fluxus”, but most of whom don’t even realize how indebted their art is to an eccentric hypochondriac from Lithuania. In his lifetime, Maciunas’s work was used and displayed by Walter Thompson advertising agency and in the Mead Papers’ Library Ideas. In 2009, the Museum of Modern Art acquired the Gilbert and Lila Silverman Collection, the largest existing collection of Fluxus art. Accessed 04.08.2009 from
19 Selected Statements
      Worktype Info Year Country Admin
Nice Fluxus Exhibition Exhibition Nice France Edit
An Anthology Fluxus Book - 1959 USA Edit
PIANO COMPOSITIONS (No.13) FOR NAM JUNE PAIK Fluxus Event Score - 1962 USA Edit
Fluxus Manifesto Art Manifesto - 1962 Germany Edit
HOMAGE TO DICK HIGGINS Fluxus Event Score - 1962 USA Edit
HOMAGE TO LA MONTE YOUNG Fluxus Event Score - 1962 USA Edit
HOMAGE TO RICHARD MAXFIELD Fluxus Event Score - 1962 USA Edit
HOMAGE TO WALTER DE MARIA Fluxus Event Score - 1962 USA Edit
Piano Piece #13 (Carpenters Piece) FOR NAM JUNE PAIK Fluxus Event - 1962 USA Edit
The Fluxus International Festival Of Very New Music Fluxus Event Horsaal des Stadtischen Museums, Wiesbaden 1962 Germany Edit
In Memoriam To Adriano Olivetti Fluxus Event Score - 1963 USA Edit
Solo for Lips and Tongue Sound Performance 1964 USA Edit
Fluxhouse Cooperative - 80 Wooster Street, New York City 1966 USA Edit
Dancing Aeroplane 1972 Edit
New York-Downtown Manhattan: Soho Exhibition sponsored by the Akademie der Kunste and the Berliner Festwochen, in Berlin 1975 Germany Edit
Radio Interview - - 1977 USA Edit
Seattle Fluxus Exhibition Exhibition Seattle, Washington 1977 USA Edit
Fluxus wedding Performance Jean Depuys loft at 537 Broadway 1978 USA Edit