allan kaprow’s how to make a happening (audio and text)


Allan Kaprow – How To Make a Happening (1966)

Issued on 1966 on Philip Ornstein’s iconic MassArt imprint, which also brought us Terry Riley’s Reed Streams ‎and Max Neuhaus & John Cage’s Fontana Mix-Feed, Allan Kaprow’s How to Make a Happening is among the most sought after in the canon of records made by fine artist.

For those outside of the art world, Kaprow’s name is likely to be unfamiliar, but his influence ripples around us. He was a pioneer of performance art, going to extensive lengths to observe art in everyday life, embracing fleeting temporality of a moment, and was among the earliest thinkers to champion the breaking of the fourth wall between performer and audience. Much of what we consider to be essential components of the 1960’s counterculturehappenings, acid tests, be-ins, coming together, non-hierarchical collaboration, all draw on his ideas.

In these difficult times, it is important to remember the power of art – the way it brings us closer, promotes empathy, places us in collaboration, and gives voice to our dissent. Kaprow embraced the sense of possibility and beauty which occurs when art and life join – their ability to free us from the oppression, restriction, and fear. Our moment may call for a return to his ideas – to begin again with the happening. In this spirit, I present the audio and transcription (sourced from the always wonderful Primary Information) from How to Make a Happening – his instruction manual for how to begin. I hope it serves to inspire.

-Bradford Bailey


Allan Kaprow – How to Make a Happening (1966)




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