In the late s and early s, happenings made New York City the happening place to be. The term was coined by Allan Kaprow, an artist and lecturer who had studied painting with one of the key exponents of Abstract Expressionism , Hans Hofmann , in the s. Unlike the influential critic Clement Greenberg, Kaprow was less interested in the art object than in the way they were created: he was excited by the performative possibilities of painting. He suggested that the art to come was one that incorporated everyday life, and everyday objects. In Kaprow went on a mushroom hunt with artists, composers and founder members of the Fluxus group George Brecht and John Cage.
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In the late s and early s, happenings made New York City the happening place to be. The term was coined by Allan Kaprow, an artist and lecturer who had studied painting with one of the key exponents of Abstract Expressionism , Hans Hofmann , in the s. Unlike the influential critic Clement Greenberg, Kaprow was less interested in the art object than in the way they were created: he was excited by the performative possibilities of painting. He suggested that the art to come was one that incorporated everyday life, and everyday objects.
In Kaprow went on a mushroom hunt with artists, composers and founder members of the Fluxus group George Brecht and John Cage. Cage invited him along to his composition class at the New School for Social Research in New York and, fascinated by what he heard about recording, editing and looping tape, Kaprow asked if he could attend regularly. In he presented 18 Happenings in 6 Parts at the Reuben Gallery in New York — the first opportunity for a wider audience to experience this sort of event.
Despite their name, happenings were actually tightly planned and participative. Like the Black Mountain untitled event of , the environments, actions, sound, light and the timing were all integral parts of 18 Happenings in 6 Parts. Once people arrived at the second floor loft space of the Reuben Gallery they were given a programme of events, and instructions on how to behave, including when to take their seats or move between the three spaces, or when applause was appropriate at the very end only.
Lasting for ninety minutes, the eighteen simultaneous performances included painters painting on canvases, a procession of performers, readings from placards, the playing of musical instruments, and ended with two performers saying single-syllable words like 'but' and 'well' as four huge scrolls fell from a horizontal bar between them. The end of the event was signalled by a bell ringing twice.
In many ways these events brought out the ideas of chance encounters, and of giving significance to everyday events. No doubt some were bemused by the goings on, and what to make of them, but regardless, happenings took off.
Until it was cool no longer. By , it was mainstream enough for The Supremes to use it as the title for a song. In the end, Kaprow himself dropped the term. It was a catch word. So by that time movies and The Supremes and all were in general usage around the word in ways that had nothing to do with my original sense, which became so foreign to me that I just dropped it. Creating art out of life was first proposed as the gesamstkunstwerk total art work by the composer Richard Wagner in the Art-Work of the Future in In Tokyo, Jikken Kobo Experimental Workshop , a collective of visual artists, composers, photographers, musicians, designers, writers and others were experimenting with cross-discipline presentations.
Working between and , Jikken Kobo members mixed dance, poetry reading, music, painting displays and architecture. Therefore, from their radical beginnings as forums for creative expression, to their eventual co-option by the mainstream, happenings reveal much about the wide cultural developments experienced during the 20th century, as well as the changing nature of art practice itself. Main menu additional Become a Member Shop. Essay Performance Art The Happening Kirstie Beaven Find out about the artist-led events which aimed to blur the boundary between art and life.
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A highly influential figure in contemporary art during the s, the American artist and theorist Allan Kaprow is probably best known as the leading pioneer of " Happenings ", a type of performance art whose aim is to remove the barrier between performer and spectator, leaving only participants. Kaprow also pioneered "Environments" - a forerunner of installation art - typically consisting of rooms filled with assemblages of everyday objects. These two genres - both of which belonged to the broader movement of conceptual art , that accorded more importance to the artist's "message" than his "artwork" - allowed Kaprow to create a dynamic relationship between the viewers and what they were being immersed in or confronted by. In addition to being an artist and art theorist, Kaprow was also an influential art teacher at Rutgers University, the State University of New York, the California Institute of the Arts and the University of California.
A happening is a performance, event, or situation art , usually as performance art. The term was first used by Allan Kaprow during the s to describe a range of art-related events. Allan Kaprow first coined the term "happening" in the spring of at an art picnic at George Segal 's farm to describe the art pieces that were going on. Jack Kerouac referred to Kaprow as "The Happenings man", and an ad showing a woman floating in outer space declared, "I dreamt I was in a happening in my Maidenform brassiere". Happenings are difficult to describe, in part because each one is unique and completely different from one another.