Robert Watts • Selected Works: 1960s thru 1988

Robert Watts was one of the early innovators of intermedia art, contributing to the development of the “event” form and a founding member of the Fluxus collective. From the late 1950’s into the 1960’s he also had a substantial role in the Neo-Dada and Pop Art movements.

Watts has been called “cryptic”, a maverick artist and “the invisible man of Fluxus and Pop.” His original training was in mechanical engineering, and he subsequently attended the Art Students League and Columbia University in New York City, receiving his Masters Degree in Art History in 1951. The following year he began teaching at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey where he became Professor of Art until 1984. During those years he was the recipient of many awards and grants, from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Rutgers Research Fellowship Grants, the National Endowment for the Arts and New York State Council of the Arts.

During the early 1960s his kinetic sculptures and unusual objects were highly visible in notable galleries and museums. He started utilizing electro-mechanical circuitry in his works in the late 1950s and began a lifelong pursuit of emerging media and technologies, experimenting with 16mm and 8mm film, photography, video and audio tape. By 1963 he had become a pioneering member of Fluxus, collaborating with the loose group of intermedia artists in producing multiples such as Fluxus editions, newspapers and stamps, events and performances as well as objects in mixed media. From the early sixties, his activities were related to the beginnings of the Pop Art movement, with exhibitions of his works at Leo Castelli Gallery, Dwan Gallery and Bianchini Gallery among others, and in many international venues. His works were exhibited in major exhibitions throughout his career as well as posthumously, and are included in numerous important museum and private collections internationally.

Selected solo and group exhibitions in his lifetime include The Art of Assemblage, Museum of Modern Art, New York City (1961); Art in Motion, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and Moderna Muséet, Stockholm (1961); American Supermarket, Bianchini Gallery, NYC (1964); Electric Art, Sonnabend Gallery, Paris (1966); The Machine (1968); Information (1970); and Photography Into Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1970), and San Francisco Museum of Art (1971); Happenings and Fluxus, Kunstverein, Cologne (1970); Documenta 5, Kassel (1972); Retrospective Exhibition, Multhipla, Milan (1974); Canadian/American Sky, Electric Gallery, Toronto (1974); New Light on West Africa, Rene Block Gallery, NYC (1976); Soho / Berlin, Academie der Kunst, Berlin (1976); Re-visions (1979) and Blam! The Explosion of Pop, Minimalism, and Performance Art 1958-1964. (1984), The Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC. 

Film still from 89 Movies..., 1965. Shown in MoMA, Information Show, 1970.

Robert Watts FLUX POST 17-17 Published by the artist in 1964. This example, black ink (also printed in blue ink.) 8-1/2 x 11 inches Edition size n/a
Examples of produce from The American Supermarket, including Chrome Cantaloupe, Chrome Pears, Chrome Pepper, Chrome Cabbage. Bianchini Gallery, NYC 1964.
Flux-card Logo by George Maciunas
Stamp Machine loaded with the artist's stamps.
Mona Lisa Cake, event 1967
Fluxus Edition, Fingerprint Box, 1960's
Chrome Shrimps and Clams, 1963-64, Collection Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Neon Chair, with Robert Watts and Dorothy Lichtenstein, ca. 1967
Chrome Cabbage, Edition Conz, 1984.
Bandit 201, Stick-On Tattoo Sheet by Implosions, Inc., 1967. Edition Size unknown.
Bandit 201, Stick-On Tattoo Sheet by Implosions, Inc., 1967. Edition Size unknown.
Tree-Wind Painting series, ca. 1984. Markers suspended from tree.
Ingres Signature, 1965. Neon. Collection Centre Georges Pompidou
Ingres Signature, 1965. Neon. Collection Centre Georges Pompidou
Cloud Catcher, 1968/69. Sited outdoors in Martins Creek, PA, 1979. Mirror bisected by horizontal etched line.
Blink Event, from collaboration with George Brecht and Alison Knowles, at Sissor Bros. Warehouse, Ralph Nelson Gallery, Los Angeles