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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 8 November 1931Kaunas, Lithuania
Date of Death 9 May 1978Boston, Massachusetts, USA  (cancer of the liver and pancreas)
Birth NameYurgis Maciunas

Mini Bio (1)

George Maciunas was a Lithuanian-American artist, known as a founding member of the Fluxus community of artists, architects, writers, musicians, and designers. His main goals were simplicity and fun.

He was born Jurgis Maciunas in Kaunas, Lithuania, on Novmber 8, 1931, to a Lithuanian father and Ukrainian mother. He escaped the Soviet occupation by moving to America. There he studied architecture at Carnegie Mellon University. Eventually he developed several loft buildings for artists in SoHo, New York City, and a farm in Massachussetts. However, real estate business was not his calling, and he expressed himself in various artistic initiatives. Maciunas was a master of public-shunning activities, like dressing as dentists with his friends, and using tooth brushes to clean the sidewalk near the Plaza Hotel in New York.

Maciunas was co-founder of the experimental art association, that he called Fluxus. He assembled a loose, non-hierarchical gathering of innovative artists, architects, writers, composers, and designers around the World. Their performances blended different artistic disciplines, visual arts, music, and literature. In 1960 Maciunas started an art gallery at 925 Madison Avenue in New York that became a meeting place for the Fluxus people. They used a wide combination of influences from Dadaists and Marcel Duchamp to John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Nam June Paik, and Futurists.

Fluxus focused on the artist's personality and individual actions instead of the traditional "professionalism." Influenced by the "prepared piano" idea of John Cage, Maciunas invented "prepared sports," multi-bike vehicle, funny food events, and "humorous dances" on sticky floor. Fluxus main ideas were loosely formulated as internationalism, experimentalism, inter-media, play or gags, minimalism and ephemeriality. Early Fluxus events took place in New York in 1960-62.

In 1962 the first Fluxus festival was held in Wiesbaden, Germany, with performances by Maciunas, Dick Higgins, Nam June Paik, Alison Knowles, Emmett Williams and others. In 1963, at the Kunstakademie, Dusseldorf Beuys and Maciunas first appeared in Fluxus actions playing pianos as part of improvised performance. More Fluxus festivals (also called "Free expression festivals") were held in the 1960s in Europe, in the 1970s in Seattle, and in the 1980s in various US and European cities. In the late 1970s and 1980s the Russian underground performing artists Sergei Kuryokhin and Boris Grebenshchikov were experimenting with the Fluxus ideas in their happening shows. Eventually a Fluxus-style community of free artists was founded in a abandoned building at Pushkinskaya 10 in St. Petersburg.

Since the 1960s, Maciunas pioneered the revival of artistic communities in SoHo by converting several rundown buildings into artist's lofts and studios. At that time Maciunas assembled an highly diverse community of creative people who shared their innovative artistic ideas. Maciunas embraced many unknown artists and helped to advance their careers. Maciunas and the Fluxus movement attracted young Japanese artist Yoko Ono. She and Maciunas became close friends. In 1970s George Maciunas was invited by Yoko Ono to paint and decorate the John Lennon apartment in the "Dakota" Building in New York City.

His ideas attracted and influenced many artists around the World, such as Yoko Ono, John Lennon, John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Nam June Paik, La Monte Young, Eric Andersen, Yasunao Tone, Ben Vautier, Ben Patterson, George Brecht, Alison Knowles, Philip Corner, Wolf Vostell, Geoffrey Hendricks, Joseph Beuys among many others. Maciunas's Fluxus Manifesto declared "opposition to the bourgeois sickness and commercialized culture." He also initiated mail-art and free networking of mail-artists in 60s, that eventually developed into Internet networking.

In 1978 Maciunas married his girlfriend, Billie Hutching, in a performance piece called "The Fluxwedding" where the bride and the groom traded clothing. Three months later, George Maciunas died of pancreatic cancer, on May 9, 1978, in a Boston hospital, surrounded by his Fluxus friends. That same year, Nam June Paik and Joseph Beuys gave a performance "In Memoriam George Maciunas" at the Kunstakademie, Dusseldorf where Beuys and Maciunas first appeared in Fluxus actions. The concert lasted 74 minutes - Maciunas died aged 47.

Fluxus artists continue to meet in cities around the world as well as in cyberspace. In 2005 an oratorio loosely based on Maciunas premiered in the Summer Festival in Vilnius, Lithuania. A series of Fluxus-inspired performances were given by LA Art Girls at the Getty Center in Los Angeles in 2006 and 2008.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

Spouse (1)

Billie Hutching (24 February 1978 - 9 May 1978) (his death)

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