There are few art-world figures as influential—and as little known—as Dick Higgins (1938–98), cofounder of Fluxus, “polyartist,” poet, scholar, theorist, composer, performer and, not least, the publisher of the legendary Something Else Press. In 1965 he restored the term “intermedia” to the English language, giving it new dimension to recognize the dissolution of boundaries between traditional modes of art-making and the open field for new forms that cannot be compartmentalized. His own contributions to intermedia are many—as a participant and instigator of happenings, as writer and composer straddling traditional and vanguard forms, among others—but it was Something Else Press (1963–74) that redefined how “the book” could inhabit that energized, in-between space.
Something Else Press was as much a critical statement and radical experiment as it was a collection of books by some of the most luminary artists and writers of the 20th century: Gertrude Stein, John Cage, Ray Johnson, Dieter Roth, Bern Porter, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Emmett Williams, Robert Filliou, and George Brecht, among many others. Along with his Great Bear Pamphlet series and the Something Else newsletter, Higgins exploited and subverted conventional book production and marketing strategies to get unconventional and avant-garde works into the hands of new and often unsuspecting readers.
Edited by Granary Books publisher Steve Clay and Fluxus artist Ken Friedman, this judiciously curated and indispensable compendium of essays, theoretical writings and narrative prose dives deep into the ever-influential ideas that Higgins explored in theory and practice. Clay and Friedman have chosen works that illuminate Higgins’ voracious intellectual appetite, encyclopedic body of knowledge and playful yet rigorous experimentation in a selection that includes many writings long out of print or difficult to find. -Artbook