Al Hansen Gets Weird

Al Hansen Gets Weird

Al Hansen’s long, strange trip began when he served as a GI in post–World War II Germany, where he impulsively pushed a piano off the edge of a bombed-out building. He always considered that his first performance piece, and even reprised it as the Yoko Ono Piano Drop during his involvement in the Fluxus art movement, when he appeared at the Judson Gallery and many other downtown spaces. (Fluxus artists often named pieces after their friends, in a sort of intertextual social networking game.) “Al Hansen was one of these crazy figures that marries all of these scenes together,” said his daughter, Bibbe Hansen. “He’s the connect-the-dots guy between the post–World War II beatnik to neo-Dada to Pop Art and Fluxus and Happenings and performance art and Intermedia.” He was a roommate of Beat poet Gregory Corso, and when Bibbe was a young teen she lived in a Lower East Side apartment with Janet Kerouac, daughter of Jack Kerouac. Bibbe also tagged along with her father to see underground film screenings at Jonas Mekas’s loft that were attended by Andy Warhol, with whom she would later collaborate on a couple of films (she also appeared in some of Jonas Mekas’s films).

From Chapter 9 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


Judson Gallery
239 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012