RIP – Fluxus Pioneer Ben Patterson at the Age of 82

June 30th, 2016

Ben Patterson, via Art News

Ben Patterson, an early Fluxus member, musician and composer, has passed away at the age of 82 at his home in Wiesbaden, Germany.  

Born in Pittsburgh, Patterson trained as a bassist, and worked for years in Canada, before shifting his focus towards performative work and more avant-garde or conceptual performances.  As the Fluxus movement grew around him, Patterson was influential in its establishment and in the founding of its often anti-materialist focus.  His early compositional work in this vein often involved bizarre physical prompts for audiences, including ripping paper and waving it in the air, or licking whipped cream off a female body.

Patterson would leave the art world during the 1970’s, returning after he had raised his children.  “Family was coming along, and papa needed to earn money,” he says of the time.  “If any Fluxus works were being sold at that point, it was for a penny or dollar per piece, so there was not much money to be made.”  It was during this time that his practice expanded again, into a range of multi-media performances and practices.

Patterson is survived by his three children and two grandchildren.

Ben Patterson, via Artforum
Ben Patterson, via Artforum

Read more:
Ben Patterson, Cornerstone Of Fluxus And Experimental Art, Dies At 82 [Art News]
RIP Ben Patterson (1934-2016) [Artforum]