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George Brecht

George Brecht (1926 - 2008, born George Ellis MacDiarmid) was a prominent figure in the Fluxus movement of the 1960s; he was a constant part of the group founded by George Maciunas from the first event in 1962 until Maciunas' death in 1978. Brecht studied at the College of Pharmacy and Science in Philadelphia and at the New School for Social Research in New York with John Cage. Until 1965 he worked as a chemist for international companies, but had been involved in art since the early 1960s. Influenced by Jackson Pollock and Robert Ruschenberg, he became interested in chance in the production of art; furthermore, he incorporated aspects of Dadaism, Surrealism, and the work of Marcel Duchamp into his art. Together with Robert Watts, he created the Yam Festival and participated in Fluxus actions before moving to France in 1965. He became an active part of the European Fluxus movement, collaborating with Robert Filliou and participating in the Festum Fluxorum performances, the Fluxkits, the Flux Harpsichord Concert and other Fluxus actions of the 1960s and 70s. In 1970 he moved to Germany and lived first in Düsseldorf, then in Cologne. Brecht also worked outside of Fluxus on more traditional work that was exhibited in conventional gallery contexts. Many of these works were among the Ready Mades. In 1968, Brecht went to London to work on his concept of land mass displacement.

Brecht was devoted to Zen Buddhism throughout his life and incorporated Asian aspects into his work. One project was the translation of the ancient text Hsin-Hsin-Ming by Seng Ts'an. Toward the end of the 1980s, he withdrew from Fluxus, but his work continued to be exhibited.

He participated in Documenta 5, 6 and 8 and taught at the College of Art and Design in Leeds in the 1960s, winning the Berlin Art Prize in 2006.


Works for listening