Henry Flynt returns to Chicago to lecture and screen films | Bleader

Henry Flynt returns to Chicago to lecture and screen films

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Henry Flynt
  • Henry Flynt
Few modern cultural figures are more complex than Henry Flynt. He's enjoyed a bit more public notice in the past decade, largely due to the work of Chicago's Locust Music, whose owner, Dawson Prater, has released half a dozen albums of Flynt's recordings, mostly from the 60s and 70s. In the late 50s, while at Harvard, Flynt was jolted free of his immersion in classical music (he's a violinist, though he often plays guitar these days), and he decided to adapt avant-garde art concerns to the framework of hillbilly music and blues—and, later, rock 'n' roll.

He was a confidant of minimalist pioneer LaMonte Young; he performed at Yoko Ono's Chambers Street loft; he took guitar lessons from Lou Reed; and he had a band called the Insurrections with artist Walter De Maria on drums. In 2008 Flynt performed at the Empty Bottle with his niece Libby Flynt as part of the Wire's Adventures in Modern Music festival. As a fan of his, I was disappointed and perplexed by the show, which is probably as it should've been.

Flynt is widely credited with coining the term "concept art" in 1961, in an essay that later appeared in the proto-Fluxus book An Anthology of Chance Operations, published by Young and Jackson Mac Low. The following year he began a highly conceptual anti-art campaign, picketing New York's Lincoln Center (among other institutions) with Tony Conrad and Jack Smith; they wore placards reading "Demolish serious culture."

Flynt returns to Chicago next week, more or less in that context; he'll lecture about art and screen some of his abstract films (a creative outlet he's begun to pursue relatively recently). The visit has been organized by the Eye & Ear Clinic film series at the School of the Art Institute, and this is the first time any of Flynt's films have been shown in Chicago. On Tuesday at 4:15 he'll give a lecture entitled "Visual Gestalt: Recognition of Signature Styles"; on Thursday at 5 PM he'll screen his films and give an associated lecture; and on Friday, also at 5, he'll give another lecture entitled "Great Fractures of Contemporary Civilization."

All events are free and take place at the School of the Art Institute's MacLean Center, 112 S. Michigan. Tuesday's lecture is in room 608 on the sixth floor, and the events on Thursday and Friday are in the Flaxman Theater, room 1307 on the 13th floor.

photo: Christian Xatrec

Today's playlist:

Chip Shop Music, You Can Shop Around but You Won't Find Any Cheaper (Homefront Recordings)
Ikewan, Tuareg Memories (Long Distance)
R.S. Gjertsen, Grains (+3DB)
Tremè Brass Band, Gimme My Money Back (Arhoolie)
Griener/Roder/Thewes, Squakk (Jazzwerkstatt)

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