Living Through Pop

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There must be other reasons. Fluxus, an international reservoir of progressive artistic forces coming from music, literature, theater and the visual arts, was an anarchic and explosive charge — a consciousness-expander that liberated art from the weight of history, from restrictions and constrictions, 17 years after the conclusion of the Second World War.

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The international movement initiated by the Lithuanian-American artist George Maciunas radically altered the traditional stances taken by producer and recipient, to the extent that the focus was no longer placed on a materially exploitable end product. The label Fluxus appeared for the first time in March on an invitation card to a concert at the AG Gallery in New York, cited as the title of a magazine project. Between March and July , the gallery led by Maciunas and Almus Salcius featured a comprehensive program of performances, presentations and exhibitions.

After Maciunas was forced to close his gallery for financial reasons, he moved to Wiesbaden, Germany in fall to work as a graphic designer for the US Air Force. Though Maciunas first envisaged Fluxus as a magazine or anthology about performance art and intermedia art, it soon constituted a loosely affiliated movement in Germany.

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George Maciunas returned to New York in The major attraction of the exhibition is the subject matter of the works in it. After Manfred Kuttner's and Gerhard Richter's first exhibition at Galerie Junge Kunst in Fulda in , which came about at short notice through the recommendation of Franz Erhard Walther, there were no other exhibition possibilities in sight for them or their fellow Academy students Sigmar Polke and Konrad Lueg. Avoiding gallery spaces that charged high rental fees, and only exhibited established artists, Kuttner, Lueg, Polke and Richter decided to organize an exhibition of their own.

Konrad Lueg's pictures showed the influence of gestural abstract painting, but he had begun to combine this approach with pictorial quotations derived from the world of advertising.


Manfred Kuttner, by contrast, presented objects painted in fluorescent colors alongside his abstract grid pictures, that already clearly differed from the increasingly figurative program of his colleagues. Know-Nothing genre? Junk Culture? The four artists acknowledged the influence of American Pop Art, while their primary experience of such work at that time came only through illustrations in art magazines. Equally, the exhibition's demonstrative quality displayed the impact of Fluxus happenings and actions.

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Kuttner, Lueg, Polke and Richter's adroit public relations work resulted in several reviews; like the comments in the exhibition's guestbook — which were supplemented by the artists themselves, as well as by Joseph Beuys, under the assumed names of other artists or critics — the press responses ranged from praise to incomprehensibility. An average living room as a working exhibit, i.

The individual pieces of furniture stand on plinths, like sculptures, and the natural distances between them are increased, to increase their status as exhibits. Under the pretense of a public relations opportunity, and the potential draw of a new class of customers, the artists were able to win over the Berges owners to allow this intervention.

The evening followed a precisely defined choreography. Every visitor was handed a printed program and a number on entering the store, and invited to proceed to a waiting room on the third floor. Here the artists had hung deer antlers belonging to Richter's father-in-law, and placed lifestyle magazines and copies of that day's Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper. Kennedy — who had visited Germany several months earlier in June — and the art dealer Alfred Schmela, who was unable to attend the opening. A loudspeaker system broadcast music interspersed with the voice of an announcer, who summoned groups of visitors in numerical order from the waiting room, to enter the primary exhibition room.

Here, the artists exhibited themselves: they sat in armchairs standing on raised platforms, Richter reading a detective story and Lueg watching a television report on the evening news about the resignation of Konrad Adanauer, the Chancellor of the Federal Republic, who that day had announced his departure from office. As this room filled with people Lueg and Richter descended from their pedestals and led tours around the rest of the store.

The evening came to a conclusion with several pieces of furniture being damaged and threats by the angered furniture store owner to call the police. The demonstration, which clearly carried forward the influence of Fluxus happenings, connects central themes of Capitalist Realism. Pop Art's linking of art and everyday life is just as noticeable here as the attempt to criticize the world of middle class consumerism, done so with the help of a trivialized visual language and the ironic treatment of the artist's own works and status as artists.

They had already set up their beautiful large-format paintings in the front garden in the snow. It looked fantastic: Art in snow! On a winter day in early , Kuttner, Lueg, Polke and Richter hired a truck and drove together to Wuppertal and then to Leverkusen. The action, which became known as the Front Yard Exhibition , constituted a brazen act of self-marketing, as much as a radical break from exhibition conventions.

Kuttner however was not included in this show, and the episode marked a break in his involvement with the group, his paintings being considered to no longer fit with the figurative stance of Capitalist Realism. Director of the museum Udo Kultermann saw the paintings, but decided against a formal exhibition of the work.

You are as close to Rafael as to the Surrealists, the Impressionists, cave-painters, Zero, Picasso, Fluxism and the millions of poor devils who take snapshots of their families.

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That's your greatness Capitalist Realism? The exhibition was followed by a solo exhibition by Konrad Lueg in June the same year. Haseke had moved to Hannover to work as an art teacher, and ran the gallery in parallel from to Haseke's father-in-law was a printer, and while the gallery ran on basic and largely non-commerical means, this enabled each artist exhibiting with him to produce a catalogue.

Haseke went on to publish several important editions by Lueg, Polke and Richter amongst others.

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Handwritten notes by Richter in August Haseke's archive, containing precise instructions for the position and degree of blurriness that should be applied to his images, documents his meticulousness in the production of such editions. They really were prototypically middle-class.

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