Eric Andersen

Article Bio Projects
identity, irony, perception, space
Action art (Fluxus)
Visual Arts (mixed media, participation art, performance)
Europe, Nordic
created on:
January 3, 2008
last changed on:
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Chimera and living legend

Eric Andersen from Denmark is both, a chimera and a living legend. As one of the first Fluxus-artists he tries through his actions and works to vex and disorientate the public as much as possible. He may have been born in Antwerp in 1940 or in Copenhagen in 1942 but not in New York in 1935. Much the same is true of his carefully numbered works, which he claims make up an ‘opus’. No two works bear the same number. But what was yesterday Opus 31 may today be Opus 32 and tomorrow Opus 2015.
In 1962 Andersen first took part in one of the early concerts given by Fluxus. Two years later he was convicted of heresy by the movement’s self-styled messiah, George Ma?i?nas, for the following sin: In 1964 Andersen had gone with his brother Tony on a ‘grand tour’ of Eastern Europe and come to the Red Square in Moscow. There, together with Tomas Schmit, Arthur Köpcke and Emmett Williams, he had performed a Ma?i?nas composition, ‘In Memoriam to Adriano Olivetti’ and had watered the square with piss. Ma?i?nas, who had planned Fluxus as an anti-cultural export commodity for the Soviet Union and had even written in this connection to Nikita Chruš?ev, was so upset that he then wrote a press release, denouncing the activists as miscreants:

“We wish to denounce these four renegades and impostors most emphatically and wish to advise that no further opportunity be given them to exhibit their scandalous activities. We wish to express our full agreement with the criticism and denunciation of their activities published in the Soviet Press.“

The question remains as to what Andersen and his brothers actually did in the former East bloc.There are no records of their performances in homes, since the brothers were more concerned with performing than with recording, so there is more than ample scope for the shaping of legends.

Andersen was often a guest in the former East. In Prague in 1966, he held a three-day eventIn 1966, he held a three-day event in Prague with the Fluxus artists Tomas Schmit and Arthur Köpcke, who had likewise been convicted of heresy. This and the actions by Milan Knížák are said to have been the first Fluxus events in Czechoslovakia. Through the 70s and 80s Andersen repeatedly headed east, especially to Poland, where he performed for instance in Jaros?aw Koz?owski‘s Galeria Akumulatory 2 in Pozna? and in the Galeria Potocka in Krakow.

Andersen’s performances depend very much on the public. This is true of not only his Fluxus actions but also his installations, to which the public may be prompted to contribute. In the Nikolai Art Hall in Copenhagen for instance he installed a ‘crying space’, a public convenience for visitors, whose tears he finds hard to fathom. It includes on the one hand things likely to make visitors weep and on the other hand ‘crying stones’, which gradually change shape as minerals from the tears accumulate.

I didn´t tell Imhotep how to build the pyramid in Sakkara.
I didn´t crown Shamshiadad the First.
I didn´t write the bKaa aGyur or the bsTan aGyur.
I didn´t know Chlodwig.
I’m not to blame for what Emperor Lothar did in Eastern Europe.
I wasn´t Albrecht Altdorfer.
I never met the first wife of Shah Jahan.

Opus 18:
Announce X
Present Y
Declare Z

In 1996, the year in which Copenhagen was ‘Europe’s cultural capital‘, Andersen arranged a three-day inter-media event involving parachute-jumping, helicopters, mountaineering, live sheep and 500 singers walking on water.
Author: Petra Stegmann


Born in Antwerp in 1940
Living in Copenhagen
Eric Anderson is one of the artists who (from 1959 on) took an early interest in intermedial art. In his Opus-works of the early 1960s he looked mainly into the open interaction between a performer and his public, developing open self-transforming works: ‘arte strumentale’. In November 1962 he took part for the first time in a Fluxus concert, held during the Festum Fluxorum in the Nikolai Kirke (Nicolas Church) in Copenhagen then in the following years took part in further Fluxus festivals and actions. From 1962 to 1966 he worked closely with Arthur Köpcke, turned in the late 1960s to mail art then in the 1970s was keenly concerned with geographical space. His most eminent works include ‘Hidden Paintings’, ‘Crying Spaces’, ‘Confession Kitchens’, ‘Lawns that turn towards the Sun’ and ‘Artificial Stars’.


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the partner institutions.

Europe Now | Europe Next

(01 August 06 - 31 July 07)