Fluxus East

Fluxus Networks in Central Eastern Europe

Endre Tót

1937, born in Sümeg, Hungary
Lives in Cologne

In 1958, Endre Tót began to study at the Academy of Art, where he rapidly came into conflict with the prevalent doctrine of Socialist Realism and was subsequently expelled. Following this, he studied at the Budapest College of Applied Arts. In the 1960s, Tót gained a reputation as a painter of art informel. In 1970, he stopped painting and declared a state of zero, which was to develop great significance for his future artistic work. From then onward, nothingness and absence on the one hand, and complete affirmation through his TÓTalJOY works on the other hand, were to mark the two poles of his oeuvre. He thus produced black pictorial surfaces that represented absent paintings and challenged the viewer with their titles, as well as book objects in which the text was made almost entirely illegible by innumerable zeros written over it. On the other hand, Tót declared his great happiness in numerous actions, printed material and pictures: “We are glad if we are happy”.

In order to break out of his artistic and political isolation, Tót contacted other artists through Mail Art actions such as TOTal questions by TOT or I’m glad if I can ask you questions. These artists included many from the Fluxus circle (e.g. George Maciunas, George Brecht, Robert Filliou). He sees himself as an “illegitimate child of Fluxus”.

In order to evade the Hungarian postal censor, Tót travelled to Belgrade secretly by train, and posted his material to the West there. In 1972/73, Tót’s works were shown at the Fluxshoe exhibition that toured several cities in England. In 1976, he was a guest of the gallery Écart in Geneva, founded by John M. Armleder, where he realised his first street actions. Tót was a guest of the DAAD’s Berlin Artists’ Programme in 1978. Since 1980, he has lived in Cologne.

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