George Maciunas was born on 8TH November 1931. He was an American artist of Lithuanian origin born in Kansas. He was a founder and the central coordinator of the Fluxus Movement.
Fluxus is an international community of architects, artists, designers, and composers.
He was famous for organizing and performing early happenings and assembling several influential artist’s objects.
George Maciunas’s father was a Lithuanian engineer and an architect trained in Berlin, whereas his mother was a Russian-born dancer who worked with the Lithuanian National Opera.
After leaving Lithuania to avoid being arrested the Red Army in, George’s family lived briefly in Frankfurt, Germany, and then in 1948, immigrated to the United States. They lived in a nice area in Long Island, New York.
George Maciunas Biography
In the United States, George Maciunas showed interest in Arts. He studied graphic design, architecture, and art at Cooper Union, at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburg. He later studied Art History at the NYU’S Institute of Fine Arts and specialized in Siberian and European art of migrations.
He studied for 11 years between 1949 and 1660 and successfully completed his studies. He developed a fascination with the subject of Art History.
He began his first project, which was 12 feet in height. It was a historical chart that categorized all the past styles, schools, artists, and movements from the period 1955 to 1960.
The project was not finished, yet he published three different versions of the avant-garde history. The first one was in 1966, and Fluxus was the central point.
He also worked with Raoul Hausmann, who was the original member of Berlin Dada, and asked George not to use ‘neo-dada’ for nascent movement and advised him to use ‘Fluxus’ instead.
Type of Art Work
George Maciunas has produced some legendary artworks during his time, but the most memorable ones are:
Flux Year Box 1967.
During 1967 George Maciunas assembled Fluxus boxes and Flux kits, which are small boxes containing objects and cards assembled and designed by various artists such as Yoko Ono, George Brecht, and Christo.
The first planned box was known as Fluxus 1. It was a wooden box with Maciunas’s colleagues’ artworks. Due to the production issues, the publication was pushed to 1964. Therefore, Brecht’s Water Yam became the first Flux box to ever be published in 1963.
GEORGE MACIUNAS (1931-1978). The U.S.A. SURPASSES ALL THE GENOCIDE RECORDS
This was one of the most moving pieces of art created by George Maciunas. It was a poster of a flag, which was one of the publications of Fluxus. The art piece was not signed because George wanted it to be anonymous. The poster was very famous and widely distributed. It was illustrated in several books on political posters.
George wanted this poster to have a grave impact on the minds of the people.
Professor Kristine Stiles of Duke University has discussed Fluxus being part of the movement of global humanism that is achieved through breaking down the boundaries of the cultural norms, political conventions, and artistic media.
George Maciunas’s work always revolved around the aspects mentioned. He could see into the future, and it showed in his artwork.
The movement, such as Dada and Futurism, showed a blurring of cultural conventions and was done by Fluxus artists. The revolutions taking place in the 60s was the inspiration behind the artistic expression of Fluxus and George.
The definition of Flux is ‘to flow.’ The artists in Fluxus wanted to reorder the production temples and reveal the ethereal extraordinary things that were undisclosed due to the societal pressure.
George’s work was influenced by the happenings at the Black Mountain College, which involved David Tudor, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg, and others.
Other influences were the Nouveaux Realistes; the concept art of Henry Flynt, and the notion of the ready made by Marcel Duchamp.
Fluxus resembled its sibling artistic movements like minimalism and Pop Art. The artists in Fluxus, including George Maciunas, expressed counter-cultural sentiments. He wanted the art to be deaestheticized and decommodified. He wanted art to be an experience to be valued.
Those who value originality of art over the imitated version re-conceptualized the subject matter. They used musical concerts, publications, and Olympic games to show the nature of the performance.
George Maciunas said, “If man could experience the world, the concrete world surrounding him (from mathematical ideas to physical matter) in the same way he experiences art, there would be no need for art, artists and similar ‘nonproductive’ elements.”
Fluxus has been described by Ken Friedman, a scholar, and Fluxus artist, as “an active philosophy of experience that sometimes only takes the form of art.”
The Legacy of George Maciunas
George’s work has been displayed in many major museums worldwide with some of the archives in The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, The Whitney Museum of American Art, and The Getty Research Institute, Kaunas Picture Gallery which has the Fluxus Room, and Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.
The great avant-garde film maker Jonas Mekas created “Scenes from the Life of George Maciunas” a 16 minute film.
The Museum of Modern Art recently got Fluxus collection from Gilbert and Lila Silverman. It is the most extensive collection of Fluxus and George Maciunas; works, around 10,000 artworks.
Dartmouth College organized a touring exhibition where George Maciunas’ work was part of the ‘Fluxus and the Essential Questions of Life’ in New York University’s Grey Gallery in 2011. It was also exhibited at the University of Michigan’s Museum of Art in the spring of 2012