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Billy Klüver, one of the founders of E.A.T., dies at 76

Billy Klüver lectures in a Toronto television studio in 1967. 
Photo by Peter Moore © Barbara Moore/Licensed by VAGA, NY.
We were sad to learn that Mr. Billy Klüver died Sunday, January 11, 2004, in his home in New Jersey. He was 76 years old. Klüver, a Swede who was born in Monaco on November 13, 1927, studied electrical engineering in Stockholm and moved to the United States in 1954. It was through a compatriot, Pontus Hulten - at that time the director of the Moderna Museet in Stockholm and who was to become the first director of the Centre Georges Pompidou in the '70s - that he met the Swiss sculptor Jean Tinguely. Klüver collaborated with Tinguely in the creation of his self-destructing sculpture Homage to New York, which was exhibited in 1960 in the New York Museum of Modern Art's gardens.

In the early '60s, he also met Robert Rauschenberg who invited him to help create an artistic event that gathered other like-minded artists, such as John Cage, David Tudor, Lucinda Childs, Oyvind Fahlström, Alex and Deborah Hay, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Whitman, as well as Rauschenberg himself. This event, held in 1966 and known as 9 Evenings of Theatre and Engineering, made history as one of the first formal attempts in the United States to bring artists and scientists together in order to create artistic projects. Shortly afterwards, in 1967, Klüver and Rauschenberg founded the non-profit organization Experiments in Art and Technology.

Billy Klüver and his spouse Julie Martin were not inactive during the last ten years. They had been working for several years on a documentary video series that sought to bear witness to the 9 performances created in 1966. Together, they published two books: Kiki's Paris: Artists and Lovers 1900-1930 (Abrams, 1989) and A Day with Picasso (MIT Press, 1999), an astonishing book in which the authors used a series of photographs by Jean Cocteau to reconstitute a day in the life of several Parisian artists, including Picasso and Max Jacob.

Billy Klüver had been a friend of the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science, and Technology for several years. In 2002, he decided to give the custody of the 9 Evenings of Theatre and Engineering archives to our Research and Documentation Centre, which we make available to researchers. The foundation also has the collection of documents published by EAT. We are grateful for the confidence that he showed in our young organization, and we endeavour to honour his memory through the conservation and preservation of these archives.

Jean Gagnon © 2004 FDL