Benjamin Patterson was born in Pittsburgh on May 29, 1934. He attended the University of Michigan from 1952 to 1956, where he studied the contrabass, Composition, and Film Direction. As an African-American musician, he found it impossible to get a job at a symphony orchestra in the United States[vague], so he started playing with Canadian orchestras. From 1956 to 1960, he worked as a double bassist at the Halifax Symphony Orchestra (1956–57), the US Army 7th Army Symphony Orchestra (1957–59) and the Ottawa Philharmonic Orchestra (1959–60). In 1960 he moved to Cologne, Germany, where he became active on the contemporary music scene of the most radical, focusing its activities at the studio of Mary Bauermeister and "against the festival." Between 1960 and 1962 he played in Cologne, Paris, Venice, Vienna and other places. At Bauermeister’s atelier, Patterson also met Nam June Paik, through whom he met Fluxus founder George Maciunas and came to play an integral role in organizing the early European Fluxus festivals. Patterson was a founding member of Fluxus and participated in the first Fluxus Festival in Wiesbaden (1962).
Returning to New York and receiving his master's at the end of 1965 decided to retire from art, to live a "normal life". Despite the "retreat" he participated in the São Paulo Biennale in 1983, and his works are featured in the Silverman Collection exhibitions around the United States.
After quitting artistic activity, he continued his career in art. He worked as general manager in the Symphony of the New World (1970–72), as Assistant Director of the Department of Cultural Affairs for New York City (1972–74), as director of development for the Negro Ensemble Company (1982–84), and as National Director for Pro Musica Foundation Inc. (1984–86).
In 1988 he left his retreat, with a solo exhibition of new assemblages and installations at Emily Harvey Gallery in New York. He participated in several Fluxus Festival, and exhibitions of the group. Between 1988 and 2003, he participated in nine group and four solo exhibits at the gallery.
- Pianofortissimo (Milan and Genoa)
- Ubi Fluxus ibi Motus (Venice Biennale, 1990)
- Fluxus (Museion in Bolzano, Cortona, Volpaia, Bassano del Grappa)
- The Fluxus Constellation (Museum 'Arte Contemporanea di Villa Croce, Genoa), Wiesbaden Festival 2002
- 4TFLUXUS (Paris)
- L'Avventura Fluxus (Museum of the Absurd – Castelvetro of Modena),
- Benjamin Patterson, Born in the State of FLUX/us, March 31, 2011 – June 26, 2011 at The Studio Museum in Harlem.
- Benjamin Patterson, Born in the State of FLUX/us, June 2 – September 23, 2012 at Nassauischer Kunstverein Wiesbaden
- Higgins, Hannah (2002). Fluxus experience. University of California Press. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-520-22867-2. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Hendricks, Geoffrey (2003). Critical mass: happenings, Fluxus, performance, intermedia, and Rutgers University, 1958–1972. Rutgers University Press. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-8135-3303-2. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Ben Patterson, Cornerstone of Fluxus and Experimental Art, Dies at 82 - ARTnews". artnews.com.
- Smith, Owen. Fluxus: The History of an Attitude. San Diego State University Press, San Diego, California, 1998, p. 8.
- Pocock, Antonia. "Benjamin Patterson". Moma. Among Others: Blackness at MoMA, ed.
- Black light white noise : sound and light in contemporary art, Cassel Oliver, Valerie., Biggers, Sanford., Cameron, Louis., Ford, Kianga., Harris, Kira Lynn., Hoyt, Satch., Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 2007, ISBN 978-1933619040, OCLC 156811694CS1 maint: others (link)
- Smith, Owen. Fluxus: The History of an Attitude. San Diego State University Press, San Diego, California, 1998, pp. 73–75.
- "Ben Patterson", Episode 8, An Alternative History of Art, BBC Radio 4, March 6, 2018.
- Benjamin Patterson, Born in the State of FLUX/us: Scores at The Studio Museum in Harlem.
- "Benjamin Patterson, Born in the State of FLUX/us, June 2 – September 23, 2012" at Nassauischer Kunstverein Wiesbaden.