Benjamin Patterson

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Patterson sketched by Alison Knowles for brochure announcing The Four Suits, c1965. [2]
Born May 29, 1934(1934-05-29)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Died June 25, 2016(2016-06-25) (aged 82)
Wiesbaden, Germany
Web UbuWeb Sound, Wikipedia
Patterson performing his Variations for Double Bass (1961) at Kleinen Sommerfest: après John Cage, Galerie Parnas, Wuppertal, 9 Jun 1962. Photo: Rolf Jährling. [1]
Benjamin Patterson: Born in the State of Flux/us, 2012, Log, PDF.

Benjamin (Ben) Patterson (1934–2016) was an American musician, artist, and one of the founders of the Fluxus movement.


Ben Patterson received a Bachelor's degree in music at the University of Michigan in 1956. According to an old biography he was "proficient on the double-bass, knowledgeable in music theory and history and acquainted with the crafts of composition and conducting." After a brief career as a double-bassist with symphony orchestras in Canada (1957-59) he settled in Cologne in 1960. There, he was active in the contemporary music scene, performing in festivals in Cologne, Paris, Venice, Vienna and elsewhere.

During this pre-Fluxus period he 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 where he published his Methods and Processes. Commuting between Paris and West Germany, Patterson assisted George Maciunas in organizing the historic 1962 Fluxus Festival in Wiesbaden. His interview with Emmett Williams - for the opening of this festival - was one of the first articles about Fluxus. The first film documentation of Fluxus - news coverage by German Television - featured Patterson's performance of his Variations for Double-Bass. After Wiesbaden Patterson and his works continued to be an important presence at Fluxus events around the world. In 1963 Patterson moved to New York, where he participated in Fluxus manifestations until the late 1960s - when he returned to pursue "an ordinary life".

During the next two decades he pursued a career in arts administration - managing a variety of music, theater and dance companies and serving as administrator or consultant to municipal, state and federal arts funding agencies. Although he remained outside the Fluxus scene during this period, he did occasionally surface with performances and new works for such events as the 20th Anniversary Fluxus Festival in Wiesbaden in 1982 and the 1983 Bienal de Sao Paulo, Brazil, and has been well represented in the various exhibitions throughout the USA of the Silverman collection.

After a nearly twenty-year hiatus, Patterson reemerged in the late 1980s to resume his career as an artist. In 1989, Patterson returned to Europe to live, creating a vast repository of scores, paintings, and sculptures. He has exhibited or performed widely in major or minor venues in New York, Brisbane, Prague, Winnipeg, Tusa (Sicily), Athens, Kassel, and elsewhere. (Source)

Recent exhibitions[edit]



  • Benjamin Patterson: Born in the State of Flux/us, ed. Valerie Cassel Oliver, Houston: Contemporary Arts Museum, 2012, 268 pp. With 2 CDs. [3] (English)
    • Benjamin Patterson: Living Fluxus, Wiesbaden: Nassauischer Kunstverein, and London: Koenig Books, 2012, 297 pp. (German)/(English)