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 George (MacDiarmid) Brecht  (1926 - 2008)

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Lived/Active: New York/New Jersey / Germany      Known for: conceptual artist, assemblage, pop sculpture

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George Brecht
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Six translocations for the Isle of Wight (from The Book of the Tumbler on Fire)
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A leading member of Fluxus, a group of Conceptual artists of the early 1960s, George Brecht lived in the USA until 1965, when he moved to Europe, settling in Cologne in 1972.   He was born in New York City with the name of George MacDiarmid but changed his name to Brecht during World War II "because he liked the sound of the name."  Brecht described his art expression as a way of "ensuring that the details of everyday life, the random constellations of objects that surround us, stop going unnoticed."

His specialties in addition to painting and sculpture were assemblages, arrangements that often featured chairs, and 'event scores', which were written messages "with eccentric instructions" on small white cards that he would mail to friends.

After serving in the War, he became a chemistry student at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, and from 1950 to 1965, earned his living as a research chemist.

Meanwhile, influenced by Jackson Pollock and expressing his emerging art interests, he experimented with unconventional mixed-media materials such as ink, marbles and bed sheets.  In 1958, the avant-garde composer, John Cage, became a strong influence on Brecht, who studied with Cage in New York at the New School for Social Research.   Soon Brecht "was producing compositions even more radical than those of Mr. Cage."

In the early 1960s, George Brecht taught in the art department of Rutgers University, and began his association with faculty members and future Fluxus members Robert Watts, Geoffrey Hendricks and Allan Kaprow, inventor of the 'happening'.

Brecht's first solo exhibition, "Toward Events: An Arrangement", was in New York in 1959 at the Reuben Gallery.  From this time, his artwork, especially assemblages, received much public attention and was part of the Museum of Modern Art 1961 landmark exhibition, "The Art of Assemblage".   The Museum bought his entry, Repository, which was a cabinet "containing a pocket watch, a thermometer, rubber balls, toothbrushes, and other objects."

In Europe, Brecht especially was recognized.  He was part of the 1972 and 1977 exhibitions, Documenta in Kassel, Germany, and in 2005, his work was featured at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne in a "comprehensive career retrospective."

George Brecht died at age 82 in Cologne, Germany.

Source:
Ken Johnson, "George Brecht, 82, Fluxus Conceptual Artist", The New York Times, 12/15/2008, A29

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