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, 1970 January 6, 1971

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

Dimensions: 10 x 21 cm

Further Information: The exhibition included a two-day festival from November 6 to 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 Fluxconert at the Volkshochschule at 8 p.m. On Saturday, November  7, 1970, Allan Kaprow staged his Happening SAWDUST, which was described a s a dé-coll/age for Wolf Vostell. The activity went on for three days and participants could get 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 catalogue, titled Materialien, produced by Hanns Sohm, can also be browsed inside the Archiv der Avantgarden in Dresden.

Harald Szeemann, who is often said to be the inventor of the curator profession, curated this exhibition two years before the polarising 5th Documenta in 1972. Known for collaborating with artists, who worked in the traditions of Actionism, Happening and Fluxus, Szeemann, caused several scandals amongst visitors who were not familiar with these new and often extreme expressions of art and performances.


Reviews: An original review by the German national newspaper DIE ZEIT is available via www.zeit.de/1970/46 and one by the 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 several events, that can be seen in the program below.

The 600-page catalogue published along the exhibition function as a documentation of all Happening and Fluxus movements since 1959. The first pages contain several “dictionary entries” written by artists themselves. The entry you see below, composed by Claes Oldenburg, describes the practice of Happening as follows: “A new art form; a theatrical occurence 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 (catalogue, detail) ; Archiv der Avantgarden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Photo by Anna-Lena Werner