In the 1960s,the extraordinary ﬁgure of Milan Knízák (born in 1940) appeared. He is one of the inventors of the European happening. His early works were made in the spirit of ludism and individual anarchism,for example, his happenings A Short Carting Exhibition (1963), An Individual Demonstration (1964),A Demonstration for All the Senses (1964),and A Game of War (Prague,1965).
In the eyes of the West,his activities in the 1960s made Knízák a leader among the artists of the Eastern European Fluxus movement and happenings. He also founded the Aktuel group (the Aktuel band,Aktuel Univer- sity, A-City):
“We wanted to talk directly to the people.We didn’t want to create complicated media, complicated galleries. We wanted to inﬂuence people directly with anything which is strong and direct.You know, at that time we had the idea that art is something which can change a lot.”
Over time,his work spread in different directions: poetry,fashion,design,music,and the visual arts.In the late 1980s,he worked on statues and dolls that were at the same time expressions of Czech folklore and fairy tales, symbols of national state identity,and expressions of the socialist appropriation of values and of historical characters.
Milan Knízák continued to question the presence or remnants of historical and national kitsch in socialist and postsocialist culture, fusing the ﬁgures of Czech kings,fairytale dwarfs,and socialist politicians in ironic and trans- gressive works such as Fathers of the Homeland (1989–91) and An Idea for the Monument to the Velvet Revolution Serving Also as an Antenna (1990).Knízák’s artistic positions are quite clear:
Book :Postmodernism and the Postsocialist Condition: Politicized Art Under Late Socialism
”I am interested in kitsch as a material, but I don’t want to start with kitsch and end with kitsch.The Koons piece I saw at the Venice Biennale I didn’t like it. . . . My work is more sharp and ironical. Maybe violent. It is always changing. The period of the dwarfs, presidents, and kings is already over. I am currently involved in castles and animals, and then the work might go somewhere else….I do not take inﬂuences from art,which is the typical postmodern thing to do, I am deeply involved in irreality, that is the way I have always worked.First of all I am a voyeur,I just love to look.”
–University of California Press, 2003 ,Aleš Erjavec
Milan Knížák, 1976
Milan Knížák, Nucené symbiosy, 1977
Milan Knížák – Destroyed Music , 1963-1979, Vinyl records
Destroyed Music , 1963-1979, Vinyl records
SOFTHARD CHAIR, 1974