Willem de Ridder (Dutch, born 1939). European Mail-Order Warehouse/Fluxshop inventory with Dorothea Meijer, seated, in the
home of the artist, Amsterdam, winter 1964–65. Gelatin silver print. Photo: Wim van der Linden/MAI. © 2011 Willem de Ridder (Dutch,
1941–2001). The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift
Together with festivals, street actions, and musical events, artists’ editions played an essential role in Fluxus, a network of artists that emerged in the early 1960s in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Fluxus Editions, an ambitious publishing program conceived by artist and designer George Maciunas—a central figure in the group—comprises affordable items made in multiples and intended to communicate the group’s ideas and activities on an international scale. Dozens of Fluxus Editions were produced, including collective anthologies, or “yearboxes,” and works by individual artists, often inventively constructed for mailing. Reflecting an interdisciplinary and playful approach, many editions incorporate instruction scores, film loops, audio recordings, games, puzzles, and documentation from the group’s extensive program of performance concerts—some called Fluxfests. Composer John Cage’s experiments with sound and chance operations resonated with this community of young artists, as did Marcel Duchamp’s readymades and Constructivism’s emphasis on the integration of art and life.
As the transmission of ideas in artworks became a primary interest for many artists (eclipsing aesthetics), innovative publishers in Europe and the United States pioneered nontraditional forms and methods. For Fluxus Editions, Maciunas solicited concepts from his colleagues and then often designed and assembled the projects himself, unifying their appearance. In addition, he envisioned showrooms—called Fluxshops—where the general public could purchase objects directly from the group. Along with collective authorship and self-representation, the tension between material and concept—the thing and the thought—was of main concern. In graphics and text, many Fluxus Editions propose actions or ideas and were intended to be held, read, and manipulated by their users, including George Brecht’s proposed project Thing/Thought—a pair of pennants showing these two words, the inspiration for the exhibition’s title. Production of Fluxus Editions was inconsistent, and few sold at the time; however, the projects circulated widely among artists in the 1960s and 1970s, catalyzing discourse around experimental practices during that period.
This website provides an overview of three collective anthologies—Fluxus 1, Fluxkit and Flux Year Box 2—and a selection of the contents from each publication can be viewed in the image slideshows.