HAPPENING & FLUXUS, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, 1970

Subtitle: Dokumentation – Selbstdarstellung der Beteiligten – Environments

Artists: Joseph Beuys, Günter Brus, Allan Kaprow, Charlotte Moorman, Otto Muehl, Hermann Nitsch, Ben Vautier, and Wolf Vostell

Curator: Harald Szeemann

Duration: November 6, 1970January 6, 1971

Opening: November 6, 1970, 68 p.m.

Dimensions: 10 x 21 cm

Further Information: The exhibition included a two-day festival held between November 6 and 8, 1970, with several events that can be seen in the program. The opening began at 5 p.m. with a concert by Robert Watts, and was continued with a Fluxconcert at the Volkshochschule at 8 p.m. On Saturday, November  7, 1970, Allan Kaprow staged his Happening SAWDUST, which was described as a ‘dé-coll/age’ for Wolf Vostell. The activity went on for three days and participants would receive a briefing every morning at 9:30 a.m.  Simultaneously, Wolf Vostell staged his Happening Salat, for which you can find a detailed description here. At 9 p.m., Dick Higgins, the husband of Alison Knowles, staged another Happening. On Sunday, November 8, the day began with a concert by John Cage, followed by performances from the Vienna Actionists Otto Muehl, and Hermann Nitsch. A catalog, titled Materialien and published by Hanns Sohm, is also held at the Archiv der Avantgarden in Dresden.

Harald Szeemann, who is often said to be the first professional curator, curated this exhibition two years before his polarizing documenta 5 in 1972. Known for collaborating with artists working in Actionism, Happening and Fluxus, Szeemann scandalized visitors, who were not familiar with these new and often extreme expressions of art and performances.


Reviews: An original review by German national newspaper DIE ZEIT is available via www.zeit.de/1970/46 and another by local newspaper Stadtrevue via www.stadtrevue.de/archiv/artikelarchiv/. Both reviews are written in German.

Images: Images of the invitation and all other archival documents shown on this page are part of the online collection of Archiv der Avantgarden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden.


Allan KaprowBen VautierCharlotte MoormanClaes OldenburgDick HigginsGünter BrusHermann NitschJohn CageJoseph BeuysOtto MuehlWolf Vostell

 The exhibition included a two-day festival from November 6–8, 1970, with a series of events that can be seen in the program below.

The 600-page catalog published along the exhibition functions as a documentation of all Happening and Fluxus movements since 1959. The first pages contain several “dictionary entries” written by the artists. The entry you see below, from Claes Oldenburg, describes the practice of Happening as follows: “A new art form; a theatrical occurrence usually not taking place in a theater. An event or series of activities involving all or some of the senses taking place in a natural or assembled environment where ‘audience’ and ‘event’ are commingled.”

FLUXUS & HAPPENING, Kölnischer Kunstverein, 1970 (catalogue, detail) ; Archiv der Avantgarden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Photo by Anna-Lena Werner
Happening & Fluxus, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, 1970 (catalog, detail) ; Archiv der Avantgarden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. Photo by Anna-Lena Werner