Milan Knížák, Lady With Blooming Hand, 1985, 1989, Silkscreen on cloth, 175 × 178 cm, Edition of 21
Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin
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  • Silkscreen on cloth
  • 175 × 178 cm
    (68 ⅞ × 70 ⅛ inches)
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  • Milan Knížák is a Cezch artist, sculptor, graphic designer, theorist, and musician. His work is often associated with Fluxus, with George Maciunas appointing him as director of Fluxus East. Knížák followed his father’s footsteps, taking an interest in art, music, and mathematics, yet pursuing an erratic course of study as he was thrown out and left various universities. Since the early 1960s, he promoted the realization of “Ceremonies” and “Demonstrations,” actions performed in the streets of Prague. In 1964, following the spirit of these early events, he founded the group Aktuální umění (Actual Art), together with Jan Mach, Vít Mach, Sonia Švecová, Jan Trtílek, and Robert Wittmann. Reminiscent of the Happenings by Allan Kaprow, known through his colleague, the art critic Jindřich Chalupecký, Aktualní umění performed numerous participatory actions such as Actual Walk (1964) and published various leaflets, dissident samizdat publications, and objects in small editions. Two years later, together with Dick Higgins, Ben Vautier, and Serge III Oldenbourg, Knížák organized the series of concerts “Koncert Fluxu” in Prague (1966). In 1968, Knížák traveled to New York, where he spent two years and participated in numerous Fluxus events organized by Maciunas. While this was an extensive and influential exchange, Knížák was also critical of both Happenings and Fluxus, asserting a more natural simultaneity between art and life, which has remained central to his practice from actions and design to music. In 1965, Knížák started working on the series Broken Music: Through scraping, burning, gluing, and breaking gramophone records, he recorded what he would later release as new compositions. The altered original vinyl is both the notation and the object and is the center of two Edizioni Conz editions: Destroyed Music and Golden Record of My Destroyed Music (both 1963, 1980). Knížák taught at the Academy of Fine Arts, Prague (1990–2015), where he was also chancellor (1990–97) before becoming director of the National Gallery Prague (1999–2011). He has received numerous awards, including the Kolář Prize (1977) and a DAAD artist fellowship (1979). Knížák’s works are included in numerous collections, and he has exhibited internationally at, among others, Liget Galeria, Budapest (1987), the Biennale di Venezia (1990), the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (2017), and the Akademie der Künste, Berlin (2018).

Artworks (31)