Wolf Vostell, Germany| 1932-1998

Berlin and Phenomena
(1966, Great Bear Pamphlet, Something Else Press) [PDF, 824k]

Born in 1932 at Leverkusen. Between 1950 and 1953 he studied photolithography. In 1954-55 he studied painting and typography at Wuppertal, and painting, graphic art and anatomy at the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris. He noticed the word "décollage" in connection with a plane crash on the front cover of the Figaro. He used this term to refer to the process of tearing down posters, and for the use of mobile fragments of reality. During this period, he got to know the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. In 1957 he studied at the Düsseldorf Academy, at the same time engaging in studies of the Talmud and iconographic investigations of the paintings of Hieronymous Bosch. From 1958 he organized his Décoll/age happenings. He also studied the psychology of C. G. Jung and travelled to Spain. In 1960 he married Dona Mercedes Guardado Olivenza. In 1962 he was one of the founders of FLUXUS in Wiesbaden. The first FLUXUS Festival was held at Wiesbaden, later going on tour to Copenhagen and Paris. From 1963 to 1965 he had one-man exhibitions and organized Happenings in New York. In 1964 he carried out the first FLUXUS events and Happenings at the Galerie Block, Berlin. Tha largest and most complex Happening, lasting for six hours in twenty-four places, was held in Ulm. In 1965 he published the documentary volume Happening, Fluxus, Pop Art, Neuer Realismus with Jürgen Becker. In 1966 he carried out the Happening Dogs and Chinese not allowed in New York, which lasted 14 days, took place over all New York and used the entire subway network. He was also given a retrospective by the Kölner Kunstverein. In 1968 he founded LABOR with Kagel, Feussner and Heubach. In the same year he realized the Electronic Décoll/age Happening Space which was shown in Nuremberg and in a special exhibition at the Venice Biennale. In 1969 he founded the Kombinat 1 in Cologne and made his first car set in concrete. In 1971 he moved to Berlin. In 1972 the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein commissioned him to make the film Désastres, in which a sleeping-car and bodies were set in concrete. In 1974 he had his first large retrospective in the ARC 2 at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, an expanded version of which was shown at the Nationalgalerie, Berlin, in 1975. In 1976, the Museo Vostell Malpartida was founded. He was included in the documenta "6", Kassel, in 1978. In 1978-79 he was given three large retrospectives in Spain. In 1981 he created a mobile museum in Nordrhein-Westfalen in the form of a "FLUXUS train", consisting of containers with environments. The train stopped at 15 stations.


Wolf Vostell's audio in UbuWeb Sound