A L L A N . K A P R O W

In the late 1950's, Allan Kaprow gave the name "Happening" to to his unique events that were shaped by audience participation. Body movements, recorded sounds, spoken texts, and even smells could be an artist's materials. A Happenings is an unfolding narrative, juxtaposing people, objects and events to create unexpected interactions. The Happening also stemed from John Cage's experiments. Cage, the most radical and influential native modernist in American music in the 1950's, was moving towards theater where he believed could be found the most effective integration of art and "real" life. Precedents for Kaprow's happenings were the publicly staged absurdities of the post-World War I Dadaists, the theories of Antonin Artaud, and the performances of Yves Klein, the French New Realist.


"The action collages then became bigger, and I introduced flashing lights and thicker hunks of matter. These parts projected further and further from the wall into the room, and included more and more audible elements: sounds of ringing buzzers, bells, toys, etc., until I had accumulated nearly all the sensory elements I was to work with during the following years....I immediately saw that every visitor to the environment was part of it. And so I gave him opportunities like moving something, turning switches on -- just a few things. Increasingly during 1957 and 1958, this suggested a more 'scored' responsibility for the visitor. I offered him more and more to do until there developed the Happening.... The integration of all elements -- environment, constructed sections, time, space, and people -- has been my main technical problem ever since." Allan Kaprow 1965