The Unity of Art and Life: The Synthesis Concept of Fluxus and Zen

By Youjin Chung.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The desire to blur the boundaries between art and life was expressed by the Fluxus artists of the 1960s. Ken Friedman suggested that art and life art comprise a unified field of reference and a single context. The Fluxus artists’ concept of the unity of life and art started with John Cage. One of Cage’s questions was whether the life-art boundary must disappear, while his Zen influence focused on the sounds and noises of everyday life. Many Fluxus artists were influenced by Cage. This paper explores the Fluxus works which examined everyday activities as art, such as cutting hair, brushing teeth, and eating lunch. This is where Zen ideas suggest that there is no boundary. This paper also considers the philosophy of Fluxus and of Zen based on the unity of art and life.

Keywords: Fluxus, Performance Art, Everyday Life Event, John Cage, Ben Vautier, Alison Knowles, Dick Higgins, The Unity of Art and Life, Zen Buddhism

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.211-220. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.088MB).

Youjin Chung

PhD candidate, History of Art and Architecture, The University of Reading, Reading, Berkshire, UK

Youjin Chung is currently a PhD candidate in History of Art at the University of Reading, UK. Her thesis title is Fluxus and the Zen Buddhist’s concept of Emptiness. She received her B.A. and M.A. in the History of Art from the University of Reading. She is interested in interdisciplinary studies of art, and philosophy. Her research interests include Fluxus, video art, participating art, performance and the influence of Eastern philosophy on contemporary art.


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