George Maciunas

George Maciunas

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A Lithuanian immigrant named George Maciunas was the informal leader of Fluxus, an irreverent 1960s art movement that also included Yoko Ono and Al Hansen.

 

Fluxus Alters the Downtown Landscape

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In the wake of her Chambers Street Loft Series, Yoko Ono became associated with Fluxus, an irreverent 1960s art movement whose informal leader was a Lithuanian immigrant named George Maciunas (others, such as Bibbe Hansen’s father, Al Hansen, were also deeply involved in the movement). “Fluxus was the furthermost experimental group of its time,” Ono recalled. “Anyone doing experimental work was aware of us and took ideas from us and made them commercial. Their stuff was selling but ours was too far-out to sell.” Preferring to work in a conceptual mode, Fluxus artists produced few physical works that could be sold within the established art market. Nevertheless, the people involved in Fluxus made a significant material impact in the way in which they reshaped SoHo. “The Fluxus artists changed the New York downtown,” Jonas Mekas observed. “George Maciunas claimed that his one work of art is SoHo, transforming the downtown of New York.” Maciunas, an old family friend of Mekas, was a force of nature who helped turn that neighborhood into an artists’ colony (one of his Fluxhouse Cooperative buildings, at 80 Wooster Street, was home to Mekas’s Film-Makers’ Cinematheque). “If the Fluxus group took part in the trend toward environmental art,” Sharon Zukin wrote, “then the changing factory district of SoHo was the environment that it both mined and mimed.”

From Chapter 8 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore