Robert Watts, Notes and Sketches 1964-1966, 1979, Print, crayon on paper, print on clothbound folder, 53 × 37 × 4 cm, Edition of 30
Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin
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Silkscreened clothbound portfolio case containing silkscreens on paper comprising a colophon, an introduction by the artist, and twenty drawings each hand-coloured by the artist.
  • Print, crayon on paper, print on clothbound folder
  • 53 × 37 × 4 cm
    (20 ⅞ × 14 ⅝ × 1 ⅝ inches)
  • Inquire
  • The American artist Robert Watts was among the most enigmatic protagonists of Fluxus. After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he moved to New York City in 1948, where he studied at the Art Students League and later at Columbia University. From 1953, for nearly three decades, he taught at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, a notoriously lively hub of artistic experimentation, alongside Allan Kaprow, Geoffrey Hendricks, George Segal, and Roy Lichtenstein. From his closeness with George Maciunas, but especially from his friendship with George Brecht, Watts approached Fluxus and became one of its main initiators. With Brecht, Watts organized the Yam Festival, a legendary project that combined mail art, Fluxus, and Intermedia through a unique artistic platform and an exceptional program. By promoting the transient side of events and Happenings with their unrestricted and anti-commercial nature, Yam’s first phase involved collecting and distributing event cards by mail. For one month in 1963, performances by Alison Knowles, Ay-O, Al Hansen, Ray Johnson, Dick Higgins, La Monte Young, and Wolf Vostell were held at Rutgers University and George Segal’s farm in South Brunswick, New Jersey. Given his close friendship with Maciunas, Watts’s subsequent interventions in Fluxus publications, events, and festivals are countless. In this spirit, he produced works such as Flux Timekit (1967), A Flux Atlas (1973), and Light Flux Kit (1973). His works are notable for echoing themes and subjects from the Pop Art of Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg, yet with a boldly antithetical intent. Examples are the counterfeit Dollar Bill series (1962) and the multiple sheets of imitation stamps produced between 1961 and 1964 and sold for a few pennies to facilitate public involvement and mock the government’s bureaucratic structure. With the same willingness to radically enter everyday life, Watts created objects, posters, and temporary tattoos for Implosions Inc., a company Maciunas founded together with the businessman Herman Fine in 1967 to mass produce easy-to-distribute works. Watts strongly supported the Fluxhouse Cooperatives, the extensive rehabilitation program for SoHo based on collective ownership. His works are held in collections at The Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the Tate in London, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Artworks (62)