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Styles & Periods
Happenings

Happenings are staged entertainment, often improvisational, in which the artist choreographs and participates in a show with visual, musical and theatrical elements. These shows are not rehearsed, and can occur at any venue, such as a supermarket, a park, a warehouse, an apartment or any other conceivable spot. Happenings became an extension of Pop Art, in their varied media and integration of life and art. There was a desire in the 1960s to combine theater with art, and to bring everyday events and occurrences into the realm of art. This was a conscious rejection of tradition in art, which had dictated subject and means of expression and presentation. Performance art is closely related to Happenings; however, Happenings imply spontaneity and a lack of apparent direction. The presence of a visual artist as performer, rather than actor, influenced the emphasis on the visual elements rather than story or character development. The pioneer of Happenings was artist Allan Kaprow, who staged the first public Happening at a New York City gallery. His teacher was composer John Cage, a proponent of chance governing the outcome of artwork. Other artists who participated in Happenings include Jim Dine, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg and Yayoi Kusama. Outside of America, members of the Gutai Group in Japan, and the Fluxus Group in Germany also staged Happenings.


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