George Brecht bigraphy, stories - Chemists

George Brecht : biography

August 27, 1926 - December 5, 2008

George Brecht (August 27, 1926 – December 5, 2008), born George Ellis MacDiarmid, was an American conceptual artist and avant-garde composer as well as a professional chemist who worked as a consultant for companies including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Mobil Oil. He was a key member of, and influence on, Fluxus, the international group of avant-garde artists centred around George Maciunas, having been involved with the group from the first performances in Wiesbaden 1962 until Maciunas' death in 1978.

One of the originators of 'participatory' art,George Brecht: Events, A Heterospective, Robinson, Walter König, p36 in which the artwork can only be experienced by the active involvement of the viewer, he is most famous for his Event Scores such as Drip Music 1962, (see ) and is widely seen as an important precursor to conceptual art.Brecht is the first artist mentioned in the text of Lucy Lippard's seminal history of Conceptual Art, Six years: the dematerialization of the art object from 1966 to 1972, and is referred to as 'Independently and in association with the fluxus group, Brecht has been making "events" that have anticipated a stricter "conceptual art" since around 1960.' Six Years, Lucy R Lippard, University of California Press, 1973, p11Brecht used the term as early as 1957-58 in an essay Project in Multiple Dimensions; 'The primary function of my art seems to be an expression of maximum meaning with a minimal image, that is, the achievement of an art of multiple implications, through simple, even austere, means. This is accomplished, it seems to me, by making use of all available conceptual and material resources.' Quoted in Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art, K Stiles, P Selz, University of California Press, 1996 p333 He described his own art as a way of “ensuring that the details of everyday life, the random constellations of objects that surround us, stop going unnoticed.”


The Cedilla That Smiles

Maciunas' decision to picket a Stockhausen concert of Originale in August 1964 is often seen as the point at which the original, 'heroic' era of Fluxus splintered; the move seems to have alienated Brecht who, whilst not severing relations, left New York in the spring of 1965 for Europe, despite Cage allegedly spending a whole evening trying to persuade him to stay.

He arrived in Rome, April 1965; from there he moved to Villefranche-sur-Mer, France, to start a shop, La Cédille qui Sourit, (The Cedilla That Smiles), with the French artist Robert Filliou, another member of Fluxus. The shop was intended to explore ideas about the 'obtuse relationship(s) to the institution of language'George Brecht Events; A Heterospective, Robinson, Walter König p318 but instead ushered in what he described cheerfully as "accelerated creative inactivity".

Land Mass Translocations

After the shop closed in 1968, Brecht moved to London, where he formed a new company, 'Brecht and MacDiarmid', which proposed a number of Land Mass Translocations. As a pilot project, Brecht suggested moving the Isle of Wight westward to Portland Bill. "One of us (GB) proposed in 1966 that the Arctic ice pack be interchanged with the Antarctic, and in the winter of 1967-8, in London, the idea of moving England closer to the equator presented itself. This intuition was reinforced by recent scientific studies which have shown that England is being tilted... at a rate such that areas of London 15 meters above sea level or less will be submerged in 1500 years time. Considering that London has been an inhabited place for at least 2000 years, this is not as remote an event as it seems. In this light, Brecht and MacDiarmid are undertaking research into the feasibility of moving land masses over the surface of the earth..... Movement of the Isle of Wight would be a pilot project for the larger translocation of England." George Brecht, B.Sc.George Brecht quoted in Land Mass Translocations information sheet, 1969

Living octopus

Living octopus

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