‘Fluxus’ is the name of a transatlantic art movement that first came to prominence in the early 1960s. Its name which derives from the Latin word for ‘flux’ or ‘flow’ was coined by the artist George Maciunas in 1961. The many artists linked to the movement sought to blur the divisions between art forms and erode the boundary between art and life.1 Initially recognised for its street and stage concerts, which combined elements of visual art, theatre and musical performance, the movement later gained attention for its multiples, with which it hoped to democratise the art market.
WHAT ARE MULTIPLES?
As the name itself suggests, ‘multiples’ are artworks of which many copies are produced. Each copy is typically identical, with none considered the original. Romanian-born Swiss artist Daniel Spoerri is credited with introducing the term to the art world in 1959, when he began a publishing initiative called Edition MAT (Multiplication d’Art Transformable).1 The purpose of this venture was to produce small, three-dimensional artworks in editions and sell these at lower prices than unique works.2 In this way, art would be made available to a larger audience and thus be rendered more accessible. While prints, books and sculptures have been replicated for centuries, Spoerri helped expand the horizons of editioned art to encompass modern art forms, such as sculptures using found or ‘readymade’ objects, and kinetic art, in which Edition MAT specialised. In doing so, he took a cue from the French artist Marcel Duchamp, who between 1935 and 1941 had produced small-scale copies of his own readymade sculptures and other works, issuing them together in a box entitled Boîte-en-valise.
Spoerri’s embrace of multiples was connected with a democratic impulse that would resonate throughout the 1960s. As the decade progressed, the art world would expand considerably, and so too would the market for multiples. By the end of the 1960s, young gallerists specialising in editioned works, along with dedicated art fairs, large-scale public exhibitions, and displays in popular venues like department stores had helped place multiples in the hands of a new and larger audience for art.3
A key facilitator of these developments was the Fluxus movement, which emerged in the early sixties and with which Spoerri was affiliated. Multiples played a central role in Fluxus, and were the focus of the publishing activities of one of the movement’s founding members, Lithuanian-born American artist George Maciunas. In 1963, as part of his initiative to break down the elitism of the art market, Maciunas opened his ‘Fluxshop’ in downtown New York. From this base, he produced and sold so-called ‘Flux Boxes’ and ‘Flux-Kits.’ Typically no larger than a briefcase, these compact containers housed a wider variety of multiples, created by many different artists.4 In the context of Fluxus multiples assumed a range of new, and often humorous guises, including scores for events and performances, interactive games, small booklets and other forms of printed matter.
As an affiliate member of Fluxus in Europe, who worked with Maciunas on several occasions, Beuys was well aware of his colleague’s activities and in 1965 began producing multiples of his own. In contrast to the works that Maciunas published, which often fit snuggly in the palm of one’s hand, Beuys’s first multiples were larger and were often more complex to produce. In place of small sheets of printed paper or boxes containing simple, prefabricated objects, Beuys favoured work with a more sculptural character, in which found materials were combined with hand-formed elements. This latter trait also set his works apart from Fluxus multiples, as well as those of Edition MAT, which avoided suggestions of hand-production. Many of Beuys later multiples also bore signs of the artist’s hand, in the form of signatures, inscriptions, and manually applied stamps. Like both Spoerri and Maciunas, Beuys had a strongly democratic vision for art, to which end he conceived his multiples as ‘vehicles’ for increasing art’s accessibility and distributing his ideas to a wider public.5 When his work began to take an explicitly political turn in the early 1970s, multiples became an ideal means of publicising his social concerns.
|I Really Should… – 2002|
Audio CD, 48+ minutes, unlimited edition
Audio recording of 1000 things I really should do…
|Not Fragile – 2012|
Water-jet cut, powder coated sheet steel, plexiglass, LED lights & electronics
12″ diameter x 2″
Edition of 25 + 5 AP
Co-published with Paul M Conway Editions
Photo credit: Toni Hafkenscheid
| 1/3No Tofu/No Yoga Mat (Zippo) – 2009|
Brushed stainless steel Zippo lighter w/ laser engraving on both sides
1.5″ x 2.25″ x .75″
Edition of 25 + 5 AP
| 1/2God Damn (Watch) – 2018|
Custom designed laser engraved watch
40 mm diameter, 20 mm onyx black leather strap
Edition of 25 + 1 APExhibition History:
2018 Olga Korper Gallery (Toronto, ON);
Kelly Mark | Exist
Toronto, Canada: Self-published, 2009
7.5″ x 12″ x 2″
Edition of 25 + 2 AP
Altered exit sign, water-jet cut powder coated aluminum w/ LED lights
Shay Donavon, Nihilist Celebration, 2019
A money clip bearing the small inscription “I too dream of an end to capitalism” — a signal of concurrence and a reminder of complicity. – Sam Cotter
Money Isn’t Love, 2019
The artist changed the text from Happy New Year to Money Isn’t Love on a template for making a Chinese money envelope, given at celebrations.
I Heart Conceptual Art (wristwatch)
Wristwatch with black leather band, in a roundplatic watch case, with printed paper insert in bottom. The white watch face is printed with the moniker “I (red heart) Conceptual Art.”
Yinka Shonibare MBE | Kaleidoscope
Yinka Shonibare MBE
London, UK: The Multiples Store, 2014
8 x 8 x 27 cm.
Edition of 45
“…Shonibare playfully reclaims an object from a familiar British tradition and subverts it through the use of batik patterns and by transforming the shape into that of a phallus. The opening at the head of the phallus reveals a distorted image of Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. Shonibare has replaced the familiar image of the ideal female nude with a photograph of a well-endowed male, subverting the image and preforming an act of reverse objectification. This object can also be seen as a subversive take on 19th century Victoriana, and specifically the “peep show” images of women viewed through devices such as a kaleidoscope.”
– The Multiples Store
Closed on Mondays
New York City, USA: Fluxus, 1969
10 x 12 x 1.6 cm. (sizes varied)
Edition size unknown
An opaque plastic Canal street box contains adhesive material to secure itself permanently shut (it can only be opened very slightly). A black and white image designed by George Maciunas (see his mechanical for the layout, above) is adhered to the lid in which five children gather in front of two large double doors, with two of them doodling on the ground. The title appears as part of the graffiti on the doors, “Closed on Mondays, A Fluxgame, by George Brecht.”
Brecht’s original prototype (above, bottom) was a wooden box held closed with a rubber band.
The idea comes from seeing signs in restaurant windows (Ferme le lundi), but functions just as well as a comment on the inaccessibility of art on Mondays (when many galleries are closed). The work also sits along other Fluxus kits which comment on their own opening and closing, such as Ken Friedman’s Open and Shut Case.
“I made a box in Villenfranche – it had a rubber band inside. And then George came with this other thing using rubber cement and he had this photo made. That’s more or less his recreation of the original model [which] has a little plastic sign on it with engraved white letters.”
– George Brecht, 1983
London, UK: White Cube, 2007
44 x 45.2 cm.
Edition of 100 signed, numbered and dated copies
Toronto, Canada: Nothing Else Press, 2012
15 x 20 x 0.2 cm
Edition of 50 signed and numbered
Archival pigment print on paper, a reproduced shred of comic with the onomatopoeia of title. From the collection of the singer George Michael.
The 7th Nothing Else Press edition (and Lexier’s second) is a cardstock envelope printed with a set of instructions for making a sculpture using the six letterpressed, glueless envelopes enclosed. Star and Hexagon versions are available, each in an edition of fifty copies.
The works are available for $30.00 CDN each, or both for $50.00, from www.nothingelsepress.com or at the London Art Book Fair in two weeks time.
FIONA BANNER: TABLE STOPS
Edition of 100
TABLE STOPS is a collection of seven ceramic full stops. Each full stop is taken from a different font: Klang, Slipstream, Avant Garde, Nuptial, Formata, Optical and Courier. The full stops are all enlarged to the same scale, though each is a very different size and shape.
Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese have been collaborating since the 1980s. This best-selling multiple, from their limited edition series, showcases the designers’ sense of humor and multidisciplinary work using unusual materials and industrial processes.
New Museum Store:
See John Marriot’s site: