|Maya Stendhal Gallery
545 W 20th St.
New York, NY 10011
|T: (212) 366 1549
F: (347) 287 6775
Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-6pm
GEORGE MACIUNAS (1931-1978)
Charts, Diagrams, Films, Documents, and Atlases
September 28- October 28, 2006
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 28, 6pm-9pm
Maya Stendhal Gallery proudly announces the upcoming exhibition George
Maciunas 1953-1978, Charts, Diagrams, Films, Documents, and Atlases.
The works on view are Atlas of Russian History, Prehistoric
Chinese Art (Shang and Chou Dynasties), European and Siberian Art of Migration,
Biography Chronicling Activity between 1939-1978, and Diagram
of Historical Development of Fluxus (incomplete). Created
between 1953 and 1978, these “cultural timetables” reveal
Maciunas’ interest in visually displaying diverse information about
historical periods. Maciunas’ charts, diagrams, and atlases make
clear his desire to record artistic and sociopolitical chronological evolution.
With these charts, he introduced the 20th century as the era
of “Art Genealogy”
Born to a Russian mother and Lithuanian father, Maciunas was an artist,
art historian, designer, architect, editor, producer, genealogist, typographer,
mathematician, musicologist, and leader of the 1960’s international
Fluxus movement. Influenced by Marcel Duchamp’s
use of art beyond painting and John Cage’s experimental
music, Fluxus deviated between the boundaries of art and non-art through
Maciunas’ vision of artistic collaboration in various mediums. He
combined music, performance, visual arts, and literature to create one
of the most influential philosophies and artistic movements in modern
art of the 20th century.
Maciunas did not spontaneously design his works, but rather preceded them
with eleven years of intensive studies at Cooper Union School
of Art, the Carnegie Institute of Technology
and New York University. His widespread interests and
universalistic approach required a suitable form of knowledge management
in order for him to retain an overview of the enormity of the material.
Charts, diagrams, and atlases allowed him to reduce complexities, define
limits, and make connections between data. Maciunas made some three dozen
of these historical diagrams between 1953 and 1978 which not only made
clear political, economic, poetic, and aesthetic relationships, but also
predetermined the geo-historical framework of Fluxus.
Maciunas believed that the evolution of art could not be understood without
an orientation of a particular subject in context of time and space. In
1969, he developed his theory of the “Learning Machine” which
called for improvements in methods of transmitting information. Maciunas
criticized the rigid, linear-narratives of books, lectures, or other traditional
forms of learning for their lack of communication of the layers and connections
within history. Networking thoughts into timesaving and efficient charts
and diagrams, these “Learning Machines” were also artistically
and scientifically interesting.
Space and time, and their dissolution into succession, played an important
role as well. By breaking up the factual scheme, the work was extended
into the third dimension. The linear order of time is emphasized by Maciunas’
attempt to uncover the complexity of dates by chronologically coding history.
He depicts history with mathematical precision through
a theory that time runs in cycles, depicted in his charts by a formulaic
wave curve. His model of time consisted of four phases; origin, prosperity,
maturity, and decline. Within these phases are both primary and secondary
cycles of time consisting of mathematical rules that systematize factual
relationships. In determining his time frame, Maciunas used dates and
their corresponding events to reduce history to technical means.
Maciunas titled his “learning machines” in
a scientific way so that his intention was not always immediately obvious.
For instance, his work entitled Preliminary Unfinished Form of the
Proposed Index Coordinate Graph actually explains the history of
art from the Visigoths to Metaphysical painting. Although Maciunas uses
epochal classifications such as Visigoth, Gothic, High-Renaissance, etc,
as clear conceptual definitions, he breaks down barriers between them
by clarifying sections of time. Maciunas left extra space in most of his
charts to allow for new ideas and new connections to be added, or to extend
the timeframe. In discovering new connections while he worked, Maciunas
thematically linked several charts together. He constantly
made technical corrections, additions, and extensions.
With these documents, Maciunas criticized the rigid, linear-narratives
of books, lectures, or other traditional forms of accessing information.
He felt that a linear series of dates did not allow for the necessary
communication of layers within history. He therefore developed an accurate
way to visually obtain knowledge and quickly perceive themes. The dates,
which make up his diagrams and charts, take on a “Physiognomy”,
creating a three-dimensional reconstructed historical
Whether literally or symbolically, this idea of dimensions was communicated
while also limiting specialization. In learning, Maciunas
believed it was important to specialize only gradually. A wider range
of understanding and orientation of time, according to Maciunas, was necessary
for professional success of any specialist.
This show provides a unique opportunity to view a rare body of work that
has never before been published or exhibited. The exhibition will
run from September 28 – October 28, 2006