new-york

Robert Filliou, Man Carrying His Own Sun on a String, 1973, cardboard box, black-and-white photograph, pastel, 17 5/8 x 25 x 2 3/8".

Robert Filliou

Peter Freeman, Inc.

Robert Filliou, Man Carrying His Own Sun on a String, 1973, cardboard box, black-and-white photograph, pastel, 17 5/8 x 25 x 2 3/8".

A notable Fluxus figure, the polymath Robert Filliou died in 1987; this presentation, Filliou’s first overview in New York in more than a decade, is culled from his estate. My soft spot for Fluxus admitted, I nevertheless propose that much of his work fails to stir at this late date. Take, as but a single example, Man Carrying His Own Sun on a String, 1973. On the interior lid of a shallow, corrugated cardboard box—a preferred format of the artist—the artist’s arrestingly homely bespectacled face peers out from a photograph; on the box’s bottom, which here is positioned to the left of the lid, he has drawn a childlike pastel of the titular scene. Such coy infantilism seems a considerable devolution from the cloaked social comment once implicit to Fluxus work of barely a decade before.

Of course, to speak of Fluxus is to recall an international cluster of individuals—

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