Mot du Jour: “Happenings”

09Dec09

A Happening: "Fluids" 1967/2008, LACMA, Los Angeles CA

“Happenings”  are an avant-garde new media art form started in the U.S. in the 1960’s that privilege time and audience participation.  Known for being random, loosely structured, and containing elements of the unexpected and even improvisational, Happenings include the performing artist'(s’) sounds, gestures, and movements and are unique in that they cannot be exactly reproduced and can only be documented through video or photography after the fact.  No two happenings can ever be the same because they are live and spontaneous, although some elements may be predetermined.

While Allan Kaprow is perhaps most famous for coining the term “Happenings,” other artists such as Jim Dine, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, and Yves Klein all participated in the art form as well.  Some of their work is documented in Michael Kirby’s book Happening.

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