George Brecht, The Paradox Shirt, 1989, Silkscreen on fabric, paperboard, 34 × 23 × 6 cm, Edition of 100
Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin
1 / 3
Long, white, cotton nightshirt with silkscreened text on the front, "On my back is a lie," and on the back, "On my chest is the truth," in a title printed white paperboard box.
  • Silkscreen on fabric, paperboard
  • 34 × 23 × 6 cm
    (13 ⅜ × 9 × 2 ⅜ inches)
  • Inquire
  • George Brecht (1926 New York City, New York, USA – 2008 Cologne, Germany), born George Ellis MacDiarmid, was an American avant-garde composer and artist whose work contributed to Fluxus as a chance-based art practice focused on participation. Between 1958 and 1959, Brecht took courses with John Cage at The New School for Social Research in New York and began to define the “Event Score” format: brief, deliberately open-ended instructions for elementary actions and everyday tasks. During this time, he established a close friendship with Robert Watts and Allan Kaprow. With Watts, Brecht organized the prominent Yam Festival (1962–63), a proto-Fluxus festival based entirely on small cards featuring written instructions distributed and consequently activated by artists such as Kaprow, Alison Knowles, Dick Higgins, and Al Hansen. The event scores incorporate the quintessence of Fluxus. Drip Music (1959–62) was included in countless Fluxus festivals and events, such as Festspiele Neuester Musik in Wiesbaden (1962) and the Festum Fluxorum Fluxus in Düsseldorf (1963). The indeterminacy of the score leaves room for radically different interpretations each time the piece is performed and references Brecht’s interest in the sound produced by non-musical objects. Brecht’s work was included in many of the various “Fluxkits” and publications edited by George Maciunas, who was likewise responsible for the conception of the milestone Fluxus edition Water Yam (1963). Brecht took part in two editions of the documenta (1972, 1977) and realized three sculptures titled VOID for the Skulptur Projekte Münster (1987). Retrospectives of his work have been held at the Kunsthalle Bern (1978), the Museum Ludwig in Cologne (2005), and the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) (2005). In 2006, he received the Kunstpreis Berlin, and his works are now part of countless international collections.

Artworks (27)