Dick Higgins

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Dick Higgins
Dick Higgins
Born (1938-03-15)March 15, 1938
Cambridge, England
Died October 25, 1998(1998-10-25) (aged 60)
Quebec, Canada
Known for Printmaking, Composing, Poetry

Dick Higgins (March 15, 1938 – October 25, 1998) was a composer, poet, printer, and early Fluxus artist. Higgins was born in Cambridge, England, but raised in the United States in various parts of New England, including Worcester, Massachusetts, Putney, Vermont, and Concord, New Hampshire. He was the son of Carter Chapin Higgins and Katherine Huntington Bigelow. His younger brother Mark Huntington Higgins was murdered in the Congo in 1960.

Like other Fluxus artists, Higgins studied composition with John Cage at the New School of Social Research in New York. He married fellow artist Alison Knowles in 1960. Both took part in the Wiesbaden, Germany Fluxus festival in 1962. He founded Something Else Press in 1963, which published many important texts including Gertrude Stein, Marshall McLuhan, artists John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Claes Oldenburg, Ray Johnson, Bern Porter, leading Fluxus members George Brecht, Wolf Vostell, Daniel Spoerri, Emmett Williams, Eric Andersen, Ken Friedman, and others. His daughter, Hannah Higgins is the author of Fluxus Experience, an authoritative volume about the Fluxus movement. Her twin sister, Jessica Higgins, a New York based intermedia artist closely associated with seminal curator Lance Fung, late Fluxus gallerist Emily Harvey and The Artists Museum's and Construction In Process, performed and collaborated as a youth in original Fluxus related events.

Higgins coined the word intermedia[1] to describe his artistic activities, defining it in a 1965 essay by the same name, published in the first number of the Something Else Newsletter. His most notable contributions include Danger Music scores and the Intermedia concept to describe the ineffable inter-disciplinary activities that became prevalent in the 1960s.[2] He was an early and ardent proponent and user of computers as a tool for art making, dating back to the mid-1960s, when Alison Knowles and he created the first computer generated literary texts. His A Book About Love & War & Death, a book-length aleatory poem published in 1972 included one of those. In his introduction, Higgins says, having finished the first three parts of the poem throwing dice, he wrote a FORTRAN IV program to produce part (or Canto) four.[3]

All in all he wrote and edited forty-seven books, including On the Composition of Signs and Images, his edition of a Giordano Bruno text, which he annotated. He saw Bruno's essay on the art of memory also as an early text on intermedia. A Dialectic of Centuries: Notes towards a Theory of the New Arts collected many of his essays and theoretical works in 1976. In 1972 Higgins founded Unpublished Editions to publish his short novel Amigo, which was later renamed Printed Editions. Higgins died of a heart attack while attending an event in Quebec, Canada.


  • What are Legends; A Clarification. Bern Porter Books, Calais, ME [Maine], 1960. With Bern Porter (Illustrator).
  • A Book About Love & War & Death. Canto 1, Something Else Press, A Great Bear Pamphlet, New York, 1965.
  • Intermedia. In: Something Else Newsletter, 1966.
  • foew & ombwhnw: a grammar of the mind and a phenomenology of love and a science of the arts as seen by a stalker of the wild mushrooms, Something Else Press, New York, 1969.
  • Towards the 1970's, Abyss Publications, Somerville, MA, 1969.
  • Poparchitektur, Concept Art, Dick Higgins and Wolf Vostell, Droste Verlag, Düsseldorf, 1969.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Hannah B Higgins,"The Computational Word Works of Eric Andersen and Dick Higgins" in H. Higgins, & D. Kahn (Eds.), Mainframe experimentalism: Early digital computing in the experimental arts, pp. 27-281
  2. ^ Higgins, D. (2001) ‘Intermedia’, pp. 27–32 in R. Packer and K. Jordan (eds) "Multimedia: From Wagner to Virtual Reality". New York: W.W. Norton and Co.
  3. ^ Hannah B Higgins, "The Computational Word Works of Eric Andersen and Dick Higgins" in H. Higgins, & D. Kahn (Eds.), Mainframe experimentalism: Early digital computing in the experimental arts, pp.282-283

External links[edit]