Dr. László Végh (born in 1931), composer and radiologist played a decisively influential role in forming of the underground art scene of the Sixties. He presented (from 1958) the first local examples of concrete and electronic music compositions for the living representatives of Hungarian modernism and for the new generation of the neo-avant-garde in the quasidemocratic communities of private spaces. Due to this mediating cultural activity, his non-conformist personality and appearance, impressive network across the generations, Dr. Végh offered a new model of alternative living and the continuity of modernism behind the iron curtain. His soirées and proto-actions — for which I would introduce the term ‘intuitive actions’ – were performed with young artists of the subculture, and led to deconstruction of traditional art forms through pieces of avant-garde and experimental music, while opened up the way for happening and fluxus.
The death of Stalin in 1953, followed by the denunciation of the cult of personality at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956, led to a certain thaw in the Soviet zones of influence. However, this was a very slow, complex process, well illustrated by the fate of the Stalin monument in Prague. After its demolition in 1962, Czech culture entered the period of the ‘Long Sixties,’ which was actually quite short. Russian tanks entering Prague August 21st, 1968 brought this exciting and promising process to its end.
This text focuses on the development of Czech Happenings and Performance Art, during this short period, questioning the political and sociological situation in which this art developed. Czech artists, both male and female, such as Milan Knížák, Eugen Brikcius, Jan Steklík and Zorka Ságlová, explored the possibilities of newly shifted boundaries between art and life.