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Robert Filliou

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Title: Robert Filliou  
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Subject: Water Yam (artist's book), Fluxus, Ben Patterson, Something Else Press, Artist-run space
Collection: 1926 Births, 1987 Deaths, Fluxus, French Artists, French Contemporary Artists, People from Sauve
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Robert Filliou

Robert Filliou
Born (1926-01-17)17 January 1926
Sauve, France
Died 2 December 1987(1987-12-02) (aged 61)
Les Eyzies, France
Occupation Fluxus artist

Robert Filliou (17 January 1926 – 2 December 1987) was a French Fluxus artist, who produced works as a filmmaker, "action poet," sculptor, and happenings maestro.

In 1943, Filliou became a member of the French Communist Party during the war.

In 1947, Filliou traveled to the United States and work as a laborer for Coca-Cola in Los Angeles and achieved a masters in economics. In 1951, he took dual French-American nationality. He worked as a United Nations adviser and was sent to Korea for three years.

He lived in Egypt, Spain, Denmark, Canada, and France. He met his wife, Marianne Staffels, in Denmark.

In 1960, Filliou designed his first visual work, Le Collage de l'immortelle mort du monde (Collage of the Immortal Death of the World), a transcription of a random theater play comparable to a chessboard where individual experiences are expressed.

Filliou first proposed "Art's Birthday" in 1963. He suggested that 1,000,000 years ago, there was no art. But one day, on January 17 to be precise, Art was born. Filliou says it happened when someone dropped a dry sponge into a bucket of water. He also proposed a public holiday to celebrate the presence of art in our lives. Art's Birthday was first publicly celebrated in 1973 in Auchen, Germany and at the same time in Paris, France.

In 1971, Filliou created la République géniale (the Republic of Genius) where people enter its territory to develop their genius rather than their talent and research is no longer the privileged domain of the person who knows, but of the person who does not know.

In his work Le Petit Robert Filliou, Filliou defined the principles of Poetic Economics and its scale of values. This work served as the script for a Super 8 film that he made in 1972 with Bob Guiny.

In 1974, Filliou produced Recherche sur l'origine, a work made of cloth 90 meters long and 3 meters high where spectators could walk around inside.

Video works by Filliou include: 14 Songs and 1 Riddle (1977, document of a performance), And So on, End So Soon: Done 3 times (1977), Porta Filliou (1977), Telepathic Music Nø7 - The Principle of Equivalence Carried to a Series of 5 (1977), Teaching and Learning as Performings Arts, Part 2, Video (1979). Filliou also produced video works at Vehicule in Montréal, and an obscure work done in the basement of the Pompidou.

Filliou worked together with artists such as George Brecht. In 1982, Filliou received the first Schwitters prize of the city of Hanover.

In 1977, Filliou moved to Canada and continued to work with video. Later, with his wife Marianne Staffels, Filliou withdrew for 3 years 3 months and 3 days to a Buddhist center in Les Eyzies, France.

Filliou died on 2 December 1987 in a monastery in Les Eyzies, France.


This is an incomplete list of video works that were produced in Canada (Arton's in Calgary and the Western Front in Vancouver)

  • Porta Filliou (1977) (Arton's)
  • 14 Songs and 1 Riddle (1977) (a performance at the Western Front with the Four Horsemen and other poets)
  • And So on, End So Soon : Done 3 times (1977) (Western Front)
  • Telepathic Music Nø7 - The Principle of Equivalence Carried to a Series of 5 (1977) (Western Front)
  • Teaching and Learning as Performings Arts, Part 2, Video University (1979) (Western Front)

External links

  • Exhibitions and galleries at
  • Robert Filliou profile at New Media Encyclopedia
  • Art's Birthday, the Eternal Network
  • "Imitating the Sound of Birds", audio art by Robert Filliou, 1979, on Ubuweb
  • Robert Filliou links at artpool
  • Belkin video edition

References (Books)

  • Robert Filliou, From Political to Poetical Economy, 1996, Morris and Helen Belkin Gallery, Vancouver, 96 pgs, Sharla Sava, Hank Bull, Scott Watson, ISBN 0-88865-308-5

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