We are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend Ben Patterson, American musician, artist, and founding member of the Fluxus international art movement. In 1960, Patterson moved to Cologne, Germany, where he became active in the radical contemporary music scene, performing in festivals in Cologne, Paris, Venice, and elsewhere. During this pre-Fluxus period Patterson created and performed some of his early seminal works: Paper Piece (1960), Lemons (1961), and Variations for Double Bass (1961). Late in 1961, Patterson moved to Paris, where he collaborated with Robert Filliou (Puzzle-Poems), and published his Method and Processes, an artist’s book comprising loose-leaf pages bound in a folder. Patterson joined George Maciunas in Wiesbaden to organize the historic 1962 Fluxus International Festival, and continued to be a major presence at Fluxus events until the early 1970s, when he retired to pursue ordinary life in New York City.
Although he remained outside the art world for more than 17 years, Patterson resurfaced for such events as the 20th Anniversary Fluxus Festival in Wiesbaden in 1982. In 1988, Patterson came out of retirement with his exhibition titled Ordinary Life, at the Emily Harvey Gallery, New York. In 1992, he returned to Germany to establish a headquarters for his work and travel. Patterson’s work has been featured in many recent Fluxus exhibitions and performances throughout Europe, Russia, Asia, and the Americas. In 1996, he inaugurated the Public Entrance to his Museum of the Subconscious at Mt. 13th Month in Namibia, Africa. The traveling retrospective exhibition Benjamin Patterson: Born in the State of FLUX/us was organized in 2012 by the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. In the summer of 2015, Ben Patterson was included in the group exhibition
By this River, Weston Art Gallery, Cincinnati. The photos below are installation shots of Ben’s pieces from this show. Included is an image of Ben performing Pond with the Weston Art Gallery Docentitos.
"It is possible that my interest in rivers could be traced back to my birthplace—Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the ‘Three Rivers City,’ and that I have always lived near a major river: the Hudson in New York, the Seine in Paris, and the Rhine in Cologne, and now Wiesbaden.”
— Ben Patterson in Notes to the Los Angeles River Concrete Poems, exhibition at the Solway Jones Gallery, Los Angeles, California, 2006
Ben Patterson, performing Pond with the Weston Art Gallery Docentitos,
By this River, Weston Art Gallery, Cincinnati, summer 2015
Ben Patterson handing out wind-up frogs to Weston Art Gallery Docentitos for performance, summer, 2015
Ben Patterson, Flying Bass, 2015 and Los Angeles River Concrete Poems, 2006/2015, installation shot, By this River, Weston Art Gallery, Cincinnati, summer 2015
Ben Patterson, Flying Bass, 2015, vintage double bass, LEDs, wood, oil paint, inkjet print on vinyl and nylon, an aluminum, 36 x 134 x 88 inches, By this River, Weston Art Gallery, Cincinnati, summer 2015
Ben Patterson, Los Angeles River Concrete Poem, 2006/2015, laminated digital photographs, text, cast concrete, wooden support, pump, reservoir, water, amplifier, 2 microphones, 3 plastic palm trees, overall dimensions variable, By this River, Weston Art Gallery, summer 2015