Benjamin Patterson, Mine Is Bigger Than Yours, 1990, Assembled objects on wooden board, 75 × 52 × 13 cm, Edition of 11
Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin
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Two traditional Italian wooden Pinocchio figures of differing size mounted on wood board with a string of little foiled “Banana” chocolates looped between their groins. "Mine is bigger than yours” is titled over their heads in sticker letters.
  • Assembled objects on wooden board
  • 75 × 52 × 13 cm
    (29 ½ × 20 ½ × 5 ⅛ inches)
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  • Benjamin (Ben) Patterson was an American musician, composer, performance and visual artist, co-founder of Fluxus, and one of its major contributors. He studied double bass and composition at the University of Michigan. Rejected by American elitism and after a brief career as a double bass player with symphony orchestras in Canada, he moved to Cologne in 1960, introduced by Karlheinz Stockhausen. While distancing himself from Stockhausen’s virtuosic positions and seeking a ductile but radical way of making music, Patterson met John Cage after a concert at Mary Bauermeister’s atelier, a fruitful prolific meeting place for New Music composers and artists. In this same circle, he later met Nam June Paik, Wolf Vostell, Daniel Spoerri, and eventually George Maciunas, helping him organize the historic Festival für Neueste Musik in Wiesbaden in 1962. Works such as Paper Piece (1960) and Double-Bass Variations (1962), subsequently presented at the festival, were an expression of Patterson’s dissonance with the anti-authoritarian approach of Fluxus. Returning to the United States in 1963, Patterson participated in numerous Fluxus events there, including the acclaimed Yam Festival, organized together with George Brecht, Robert Watts, and Dick Higgins. Patterson’s subsequent contribution to the movement would be incisive but intermittent as he withdrew from artistic activity in the late 1960s. Addressing civil rights, he worked as general manager of the Symphony of the New World, the first racially integrated orchestra in the United States. He later became deputy director of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and development director of the Negro Ensemble Theater Company. With a major solo exhibition of new assemblages and installations at the Emily Harvey Gallery in New York in 1988, Patterson marked his new beginning in the Fluxus movement. Repurposing a vast repository of scores and creating new events and installations, he participated in the Bienal de São Paulo in 1983, the Biennale di Venezia in 1990, and the successive reissues of the original Fluxus-Internationale Festspiele in Wiesbaden. Patterson has performed and exhibited internationally in galleries and prominent venues such as the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid (2001), the Nassauischer Kunstverein in Wiesbaden (2012, 2016), documenta 14 (2017), the Getty Centre in Los Angeles (2021), and most recently at SAVVY Contemporary in Berlin (2022).

Artworks (7)