Magazine article Artforum International

Robert Filliou: PETER FREEMAN, INC

Magazine article Artforum International

Robert Filliou: PETER FREEMAN, INC

Article excerpt

A notable Fluxiis figure, the polymath Robert Filliou died in 1987; this presentation, Filliou's first overview in New York in more than a decade, is culled from his estate. My soft spot for Fluxus admitted, I nevertheless propose that much of his work fails to stir at this late date. Tike, as but a single example, Man Carrying His Own Sun un a String, 197.3. On the interior lid of a shallow, corrugated cardboard box--a preferred format of the artist--the artist's arrestingly homely bespectacled face peers out from a photograph; on the box's bottom, which here is positioned to the left of the lid, he has drawn a childlike pastel of the titular scene. Such coy infantilism seems a considerable devolution from the cloaked social comment once implicit to Fluxus work of barely a decade before.

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Of course, to speak of Fluxus is to recall an international cluster of individuals--Artistes Sans Frontieres, as it were--whose highly disparate intentions intersected in a mission to extinguish art's sacred aura. Put off by the pretensions of high art and marked by dadaist inclinations, Fluxus aspired to works so humbly embodied, or so sophomorically droll, as to test and, in that sense, expand the very boundaries of what could even pass for art at all.

Granting such aspirations, Fluxus, as conceived and baptized by George Maciunas in his Fluxus Manifesto of 1963, was expanded through its global affiliations, pro tern agreements with the Affichistes, New Realists, neo-Dadaists, Zero Group, and the F.cole de Nice crowd, among still others. Certain occasional participants, already recognized as big guns from the outset--Joseph Beuys, say, or Yves Klein--now loom even larger, especially when compared to Fluxus's more Ionescan, Theatre of the Ridiculous writer-artists: Filliou or Ben Vautier, for example. …

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