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Fluxus Conceptual Artist George Brecht Dies at Age 82
George Brecht, Void Stone; Arp Museum Bahn hof Rolandseck. Photo: Warburg.

COLOGNE.- Fluxus Conceptual Artist George Brecht died in his sleep in Cologne at the age of 82. Brecht had been in poor health for the past few years.

Though underrated for decades, George Brecht (New York, 1926) was in fact one of the most influential figures in late fifties’ experimental art. Associated with artists of the Fluxus movement, his work was highly appreciated by such contemporaries as Robert Rauschenberg, Allan Kaprow and La Monte Young, and has come to represent the continuity of avant-garde from the beginning of the XX Century until today. Brecht took the legacy of Marcel Duchamp and John Cage, with whom he studied in 1958 and 1959, to new heights.

George Brecht trained as a scientist and worked in chemical research from 1950 to 1965. The artist himself considered his work a task of investigation, and he focused mainly on exploring the experience of art as a vehicle to represent it. His investigations began with experimentation involving notions of chance and randomness in Chance Paintings, in 1957. Using a bed sheet as the support rather than a canvas, he allowed the contents of a pot of ink to stain the folded bed linen without the artist’s hand intervening in the result in any way.

The “event” concept is the main vehicle of his transformation project. Evolving out of a combination of Oriental philosophy, music and science, events structure the time and space in which artworks exist and set out to have us participate by modifying them and interchanging the elements that make them up.

In general, the objects Brecht employs are taken from everyday life and he uses them as stimuli to encourage our involvement. Under the title Event Objects, he presents items that would normally pass unnoticed, such as chairs and bottles, and converts them into the centre of aesthetic attention. His intention is to enable the spectator to experience the work as a living entity. Many of Brecht’s works involve games (dice, random number charts, dominos, etc.) which, as he put it, include everything – intelligence, intuition, imagination, science, theatre.

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