Al Hansen

artist name
Al (Alfred Earl) Hansen (1927-1995)
In 1958 Al Hansen attended John Cage’s course at the New School for Social Research. In his book ‘A Primer of Happenings & Time / Space Art’ he described how he told Cage that he hadn’t studied music before and how, when Cage asked “But why are you here?”, he explained that he had read in ‘Eisenstein’ that all the art forms meet in the film frame and if he was going to make experimental films he wanted to know more about music and the most experimental composers.
In Cage’s class he met Dick Higgins and together they founded the New York City Audio-Visual Group.
Hansen did a series of pre-pop sculptures, such as the Hep Amazon (1959), shown at the Reuben Gallery, and many happenings (which frequently included films and projections) and performance pieces.
In 1962 he founded the Third Rail Gallery of Current Art (with different locations between 1962 and 1965).
“My initial idea to call my living quarters the Third Rail Gallery of Current Art came about when I was doing machine art. The accent then was on the meaning of the word ‘current’ in terms of electricity and I wanted to do pieces that would generate more pieces and to find other people who worked with machinery.
As I became less interested in machine art I came to think of ‘current’ as having a highly contemporary nowness, I had so many pieces of art work by friends and books by friends and poems by friends that my house looked like an art gallery. I had always enjoyed the fact that people visiting me couldn’t tell in many cases whether a thing was a work of art or a useful household object. Friends who knew very well what art is and isn’t would even make jokes such as, “May I sit in this chair, or is it by George Brecht?” Or “Can I put my cigarette out in this, or is it part of an assemblage?” (From: A Primer of Happenings & Time / Space Art, Something Else Press, 1965).
In 1979 Galerie A showed early and recent works by Hansen, who lived at the gallery for some months. There he produced the edition FLUX FLAK PACK: a binder with clear plastic sleeves filled with documents from the 1948-1979 period. It was produced in twenty signed copies, each containing a few original artworks.