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The prodigious son: George Maciunas returns to Cooper Union in a new exhibition
Courtesy of Cooper Union / Photo: Bryan Zimmerman.
NEW YORK, NY.- Anything can substitute art: George Maciunas in SoHo, a singular exhibition that brings never seen before Maciunas pieces to the United States, sheds new light on a pivotal historic period for both the city of New York and contemporary art's recent history. By connecting the countercultural activism of the 1960’s and 1970’s to the moment of Fluxus, an international network of artists, composers and designers noted for blending different artistic media and disciplines in the 1960s, the exhibition features over 170 objects, documents, ephemera, personal items, and films. These works were created by a variety of Fluxus artists, specifically focusing on the Fluxus founder and self-appointed "chairman," George Maciunas (1931-1978, graduated from The Cooper Union in 1952). The exhibition includes rarely exhibited early work by Maciunas, such as his self-portraits, as well as the entire Atlas of Russian History (1953), along with Fluxus manifestos, charts, interviews, and Maciunas’ plans for artist housing in SoHo . Anything can substitute art: George Maciunas in SoHo was created in collaboration with The Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center, Vilnius , Lithuania , and The School of Art at The Cooper Union.

While the Fluxus movement, led by self-appointed Chairman George Maciunas, has been widely exhibited, very few have had access to Maciunas before “Fluxus-George.” Anything can substitute art: George Maciunas in SoHo is a singular exhibition at 41 Cooper Gallery that features a diverse range of more than 170 objects, many of which have not been published or openly exhibited, until now. The impetus for the show is to provide the viewer with a comprehensive understanding of the early Maciunas (1950s) and the late Maciunas (his work in the development of SoHo ). With limited public awareness of his early 1950s work, which bears all the telltale signs of “substitute art” radicalism, The Cooper Union School of Art and The Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center, Vilnius, Lithuania collaborated to shed light on Maciunas’ independent artistic career and the work he achieved immediate after graduating from Cooper Union (School of Art’52).

Self-portraits, personal documents, historical ephemera, and early work by Maciunas and other Fluxus artists are accompanied with rare video interviews with his sister and Jonas Mekas. There are several rarely exhibited projects, such as Maciunas’s Atlas of Russian History (1953) which marked the visualization process a decade prior to his Fluxus manifestoes, diagrams and charts. Atlas of Russian History, as well as scores of other works, depict Maciunas before the movement and his rallying cry that “anything can substitute art.”

Learning more about Maciunas and his early works, opens a door to experience a pivotal time in the artist’s life, as well as the cultural landscape of NYC in the 60s-70s and reaches a better understanding of the enigma that is Maciunas.





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