Happening is a genre of fine arts popular in the 1960s. Use the performance of accidental events or unexpected opportunities as a means to reproduce the process of human behavior and show people’s instinctive reactions. The term Happening was originally a column topic of the “Anthropologist” magazine of Rutger University in the United States. In 1959, A. Capulo used it to describe a state of artistic creation, and in the 1960s it was used to specifically refer to this art phenomenon. Kaprow believes that the concept of accidental art is a new art form that runs counter to the technical and permanent principles of traditional art. And it also is the continuation and development of the art of patchwork and environmental art. The difference is that both collage art and environmental art are related to the material form and the way of display of works, while the occasional art emphasizes the opportunity of the activity, the creative activity of the art lies in improvisation, and the way of expression is mainly spontaneous without specific plot and environmental drama event.
Happenings first occurred in the United States. The representative figures are the composers J. Cage and Caprow. Around them, the main incidental artists are J. Dane, C. Aldenberg, and R. Rauschenberg. R. Lichtenstein, R. Grums, R. Whitman, G. George. These artists either perform in the form of musical accompaniment, or complete their works in the form of situational dialogue.
Following happening art in the United States, happening art movements have also emerged in Europe and Japan. Japan is represented by Gutai, and Europe has organizations such as the Fluxus faction. J. Boyus is the representative of happenings in Europe. Western critics have mixed reviews and criticisms about happenings, and most of the public expressed that they do not understand it. In the words of Hamburg’s non-normative esthetician B. Brock, incidental art is just a machine that creates all kinds of conflicts.
Happening is one of the western modern art forms. It refers to an art form in which artists effectively design various postures and actions that encourage participants to make their own temporary growth under specific time and space conditions to show a certain concept of artistic creation. This art form, which prevailed in the early 1960s and is different from the traditional concept of drama, has the following characteristics. First, contingency. It refers to all the posture dynamics of the performer, which is not designed and arranged by the artist in advance. It’s that all the people involved in the performance improvise temporarily during the performance. There is also no coherent plot and story. It’s really a state of “this moment, then another moment”. Second, combinability. In the space-time environment designed by the artist, there are not only sounds, lights, images, and behaviors, but also objects, colors, texts and other comprehensive content, which together constitute the art of human behavior in a specific environment.
In short, happening art makes the relationship between the artist and the individual or group of viewers more intimate and harmonious. The psychological distance between the two has also shortened a lot. At the same time, it not only reflects the artist’s individual artistic creativity and courage, but also promotes the popularization of art.