The Art that is New York City

September 16th, 2011

The destruction of art is art, please delete this page from your web browser.

Posted by Spencer Kim in Kim, Reviews  Tagged    
A box of matches with label by Ben Vautier, 1966.

A box of matches with label by Ben Vautier, 1966.

If non-art is art, what is art?

This paradox was implicitly perpetuated throughout the entire Fluxus exhibit. Fluxus originated from the idea that “high” art, or conventional European ideas of what constituted art, was an elitist abstraction. In order to challenge the conventional notion of what was considered to be art, Fluxus artists created open-ended and often interactive pieces which aimed to provoke a similar engaged state of attention from its audience, as works in a conventional art gallery would receive from theirs. Fluxus artists seemingly wanted for their art to go “beyond the exhibit” and to encourage their audience to find art in everyday life. “Event scores” (short, ambiguous prompts which were designed to be acted out by anyone) are an example of Fluxus works which encouraged their audience to find art in everyday life, as they subtly dramatized seemingly simple actions by presenting it as “art”.

Fluxus artists challenged the very notion of “art” by creating pieces which were anti-art (ex. Total Art Matchbox, Vautier) and which were designed to be handled physically (ex. Flux boxes). Ironically, the Fluxus exhibit at the Grey Art Gallery institutionalizes and preserves the Fluxus works, transforming the works into the very ideal which its’ artists were against. It’s this irony which turns the entire gallery into a surreal, meta-exhibit; the gallery itself becoming a piece of art showcasing the paradoxical nature of art.

Despite being encased in glass enclosures in a university art gallery normally used to showcase what some would consider “high” culture, the exhibit pieces accomplish their purpose. They challenge their audiences to rethink the very concept of art and reexamine the world around them. The physical Fluxus works at the Grey Art Gallery may hardly be as impressive as elaborate Renaissance paintings found at the MET, but the simple idea that anything is art, even non-art proves to have just as powerful an effect on its audience.


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