Methods of Art – Archive of Artists Interviews


*1933, New York City. BFA from Middlebury College, Vermont; MFA Pratt Institute, Honorary Doctorate, MICA. Guggenheim Fellowship 1967; Documenta Professor in Kassel, Germany and NYSCA Grant recipient in the 1990’s. Professor at California Institute of the Arts, 1970-72. Collaboration with John Cage, Marcel Duchamp, Dick Higgins, George Maciunas, and a Founding Member of Fluxus. Participant Fluxus Wiesbaden, Wiesbaden, Germany, 1962 and 2012. Fluxus performance activity provided access to major artists in the sixties and seventies, in many countries, whose ideas and connections were sources for further thinking in works including action, installation and book arts up to the present. Knowles designed and edited John Cage’s Notations book of experimental composition and Marcel Duchamp’s last print, Coeurs Volants, in 1967. Both were published in partnership with Knowles’s spouse, Dick Higgins, whose Something Else Press published early work by Knowles and other members of Fluxus, Happenings, concrete and experimental poetry and the historic avant-garde. Since 1964, Knowles has made large and small experimental books: The Bean Rolls (1964) was a hand held, canned book of small scrolls of bean lore and information which has appeared in important artists’ books surveys alongside titles such as By Alison Knowles and More by Alison Knowles (1965/1979), Spoken Text (1993), Bread and Water and Indigo Island (both 1995). Passenger Books recently published a new collection of essays, transcribed interviews and articles and reviews related to The Big Book (1967), a walk-in book construction with 8-ft. tall pages, moving around a center spine. Knowles has continued her examination of books at various scales, from The Book of Bean (1983) to The Finger Book of Ancient Language, a table top book in Braille and other tactile languages (1987). The Boat Book (2014), commissioned by James Fuentes Gallery, appeared at Art Basel, Miami Beach.


The interview was conducted on March 4 2015 at the artist’s studio in New York

Interviewed by: Johannes M. Hedinger

Filmed and recorded by: Konstanze Schuetze

Edited by: Paul Barsch

Transcript by: Wolfram Eggebrecht, Lea Hoßbach, Ella Tetrault

Produced by: University of Cologne (Cologne), Institut für Kunst&Kunsttheorie