George Maciunas

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George Maciunas

George Maciunas (Jurgis Mačiūnas) (born November 8, 1931 in Kaunas , † May 9, 1978 in Boston ) was an American artist of Lithuanian descent. He was a co-founder, theorist and propagandist of the Fluxus movement .


Early years

George Maciunas was born in Kaunas in Lithuania in November 1931 as the second child, next to his sister Nijole, who was one year younger than his sister, the Lithuanian architect and specialist for electric power plants Alexander M. Maciunas and the Russian Leokadija Maciunas, a former ballet dancer at the Lithuanian State Opera , born. Fearing the Russian army, the family fled from Kaunas to Germany with the withdrawing German soldiers in 1944 and settled in Bad Nauheim in 1947 . His father was able to work in the American occupied zone as an electrician at Siemens-Schuckert in Frankfurt am Main . In 1946 Maciunas attended the Ernst-Ludwig-Gymnasium in Bad Nauheim and stood out for his talents in drawing and math classes. Two years later, in 1948, the family emigrated to the USA and lived in an immigrant settlement on Long Island for several years . His father received a professorship at the City College of New York .


From 1949 to 1952 Maciunas studied fine arts, graphics and architecture at the Cooper Union School of Art in New York City. This was followed from 1952 to 1954 by studying architecture and musicology at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania. In 1954 his father died. After the sister's marriage, the house on Long Island was sold and Maciunas moved with his mother to 86th Street in Manhattan . From 1955 to 1960 Maciunas extended his studies in art history at New York University , Institute of Fine Arts and after graduating worked as a designer for Knoll Associates in New York. At the same time he attended Richard Maxfield's composition class at the New School of Social Research from 1959 to 1960 , where he a. a. Made the acquaintance of La Monte Young , George Brecht , Al Hansen , Dick Higgins , Allan Kaprow , Jackson Mac Low and Yoko Ono .

The Fluxus magazine

In October 1960 Maciunas met with friends, including the Lithuanian gallery owners Almus Salcius ( Almus Gallery ) and Jonas Mekas , to found a Lithuanian cultural club. Instead, they decided to publish a magazine in collaboration with young artists and composers close to John Cage . In the search for a suitable name, they agreed on the name Fluxus in the summer of 1961 , because the words "Rysys", Lithuanian for Union and "Influx" were felt to be inappropriate. The medical significance of flowing bowel movement was already known to them at this point in time, as can be seen from a conversation with him and Yoko Ono in July 1961. He told Ono about the word Fluxus and read her a definition from a dictionary:

Clean. Liquid discharge, especially excessive discharge of the intestines or other parts of the body. Continuous movement or passing away as in a flowing stream, a stream; Lush river, the current of the tide rolling onto the bank, substance or mixture such as silicates, lime or fluorspar, which are mainly used to fuse metals or minerals.

Maciunas bought an IBM typewriter on behalf of the group and designed a layout for the magazine. He was thinking of a large format magazine. In December 1961 he had six issues planned, in January 1962 seven yearbooks. The magazine he planned was never published because of economic problems and the participation of most of the musicians was not wanted. Maciunas only produced Fluxus I , completed in 1964, and other productions up to 1975.

Almus gallery and AG gallery

At another meeting in November 1960, they decided to expand the Almus gallery . A month later, in December 1960, the two found the right business premises at 925 Madison Avenue , near the Park-Bernet Galleries . The gallery was named AG-Gallery , for Almus and George. The artists exhibited there were supposed to pay for the upkeep, and Maciunas also tried to finance the gallery by trading in rare musical instruments, books and delicacies. Due to the low number of visitors, the gallery was closed in August 1961, after concerts and the first exhibitions and performances under the title Musica Antiqva et Nova from March to July, funding was no longer guaranteed. George Maciunas changes his name from Jurgis to George.

First Fluxus events

Manifesto , Festum Fluxorum Fluxus, Düsseldorf, February 1963

In 1961 Maciunas took part in the first Happenings in New York together with George Brecht, Al Hansen and Allan Kaprow and in September of the same year made layouts for La Monte Young's An Anthology . In the autumn Maciunas went to Wiesbaden with his mother , where he worked as a civilian employee and graphic artist for the US Air Force. In Wiesbaden he founded the Fluxus Group and made the acquaintance of the most important avant-garde artists in Germany and France.

In September 1962 the concert series Fluxus - International Festival of Newest Music followed, consisting of 14 performances in the auditorium of the Municipal Museum in Wiesbaden, which are regarded as the first Fluxus events. Besides Maciunas, the most important participants were Nam June Paik , Dick Higgins , Wolf Vostell , Emmett Williams and the composers Karlheinz Stockhausen and John Cage. Then there were six concerts in the Nikolai Church in Copenhagen and seven concerts at the Center American des Artistes in Paris. In February 1963 he published the Fluxus Manifesto for the Fluxus Festival FESTUM FLUXORUM FLUXUS , which was organized by Joseph Beuys in the auditorium of the Düsseldorf Art Academy .

Maciunas wrote numerous documentations and collected and arranged artefacts on Fluxus art. Important parts of it are in the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart and the Museum Wiesbaden .

Late years

After the US Army fired him because of frequent illness, he returned to New York in September 1963. From 1965 the events took a back seat, instead Maciunas produced numerous multiples and Fluxus publications. In 1966, Maciunas founded the Fluxhouse Cooperative Building Projects , a non-profit cooperative to finance lofts in SoHo . For this he bought several houses in New York with the aim of helping artists, filmmakers and dancers to find adequate working and living spaces.

In 1975, after being attacked by a handyman in which he lost an eye, he moved to New Marlborough, Massachusetts . In the summer of 1977 Maciunas fell ill with cancer. In February 1978 he married the poet Billie Hutching. He died three months later on May 9th in Boston University Hospital. The funeral took place on May 11, 1978 at Fresh Pond Crematory, Queens, New York.

Solo exhibitions

  • 1992: George Maciunas - Fluxus , Gallery and Edition Hundertmark, Cologne
  • 1996: Strong Foundation, Berlin
  • 1999: Gallery Susan Inglett, New York
  • 2001: Art in General , New York
  • 2003: George Maciunas , Art Library, National Museums in Berlin - Prussian Cultural Heritage, Berlin
  • 2006: George Maciunas´ Learning Machines - From Art History to Fluxus Chronology , Art Collection of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest
  • 2007: George Maciunas - The Dream of Fluxus , Kunsthalle Bielefeld / Fluxus - Multiple Strategies - Joseph Beuys, George Maciunas , Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Works (selection)

  • 1962–1964: Flux Year Box / Flux 1 , wooden box, 5.9 × 24.3 × 21.6 cm, inside book with fanned pages. The diversified pages contain book events, objects, compositions and essays by various Fluxus artists, multiple, Edition Fluxus (George Maciunas, New York).
  • 1963: Preview / Review Fluxus , eight-part leporello printed on both sides with preview and review of Fluxus campaigns and publications, Edition Fluxus (George Maciunas, New York).
  • 1964: Flux Chess with Grinders , chess board: hinged wooden box, 7 × 17 × 17 cm; Chess pieces: whetstone inserts.
  • 1968: USA Surpasses All The Genocide Records! , Poster with the colors red, white and blue of the banner of the USA, offset on white paper, 54 × 88 cm.


  • René Block , Gabriele Knapstein (concept): A long history with many knots. Fluxus in Germany. 1962-1994. Institute for Foreign Relations , Stuttgart 1995
  • Thomas Kellein : FLUXUS . Kunsthalle Basel , Edition Hansjörg Mayer (catalog for the exhibition from August 21 to October 31, 1994), Basel 1994
  • Mr. Fluxus: A Collective Portrait of George Maciunas 1931-1978. Emmett Williams, Ann Noel, Ay-O, Thames & Hudson, 1998, ISBN 0-500-97461-6 .
  • Astrit Schmidt-Burkhardt: Maciunas' Learning Machines: From Art History to a Chronology of Fluxus . With a forword by Jon Hendricks. Second, revised and enlarged edition, Wien and New York 2011, ISBN 978-3-7091-0479-8 .
  • Ursula Peters, Georg F. Schwarzbauer (eds.): FLUXUS - Aspects of a Phenomenon , December 15, 1981 - January 31, 1982, Kunst- und Museumsverein Wuppertal, 1982
  • George Maciunas and Jonas Mekas, Two Lithuanians in the International Avant-Garde , ISBN 9955-548-01-0 .
  • The dream of Fluxus . George Maciunas: An Artist Biography. Thomas Kellein, Walther König, 2007. ISBN 978-3-8656-0228-2 .
  • Petra Stegmann. The lunatics are on the loose… European Fluxus Festivals 1962–1977 . Down with art! Potsdam 2012. ISBN 978-3-9815579-0-9 .

Films about George Maciunas

George . Jeffrey Perkins, USA, 2018

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Jon Hendricks: Uncover Fluxus - Discover Fluxus. In: René Block, Gabriele Knapstein (concept): A long history with many knots. Fluxus in Germany. 1962-1994. Institute for Foreign Relations , Stuttgart 1995, p. 120
  2. George , 2018, IMBd