Fluxus: a laboratory of ideas


Friedman, Ken

Available versions


In 1979, Harry Rube labeled Fluxus 'the most radical and experimental art movement of the sixties.' In those days, few believed him. Three decades later, more people might feel this to be so, but few could say why. We might answer that question first by noting that experimentation is ultimately marked by qualities that emerge in a laboratory, scientific or otherwise. In this essay I will examine Fluxus as an international laboratory of ideas---a meeting ground and workplace for artists, composers, designers, and architects, as well as economists, mathematicians, ballet dancers, chefs, and even a would-be theologian. We came from three continents---Asia, Europe, and North America. At first, many critics and artists labeled us charlatans; the general public ignored us. Later they called us artists; finally they saw us as pioneers of one kind or another. The conceptual challenge of this essay by a Fluxus insider, then, lies in trying to identify just what kind of pioneers we were.

Publication year


Publication type

Book chapter


Fluxus and the essential questions of life / Jacquelynn Baas (ed.), Chapter 4, pp. 35-44


Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College and the University of Chicago Press




Copyright © 2011 by the Trustees of Dartmouth College. The published version is reproduced with the permission of the Hood Museum of Art.