Henry Flynt

American musician

Henry Flynt (born 1940 in Greensboro, North Carolina) is a philosopher, avant-garde musician, anti-art activist and exhibited artist often associated with Conceptual Art, Fluxus and Nihilism.

Henry Flynt at the Cafe Oto in October 2008.


  • Concept art is first of all an art of which the material is concepts, as the material of e.g. music is sound. Since concepts are closely bound up with language, concept art is a kind of art of which the material is language.
    • Henry Flynt: "Essay: Concept Art." (1961) In: La Monte Young (ed.) An Anthology, 1963.
  • Concept art was meant to replace all of mathematics with an endeavor which involved a Rorschach-blot semantics; and which did not claim to be cognitive, at least not in the inherited sense. Mathematics had already been disconnected from claims of realism; and I was extending that disavowal to a disconnection from claims of a priori truth. Concept art's value consisted in beauty, a beauty which was non-sentimental. Later I would say that its value consisted in "the invention of new mental abilities." Popularity had nothing to do with whether this avenue was worth taking.

Henry Flynt talks to Stewart Home, New York 8 March 1989


Henry Flynt talks to Stewart Home, New York 8 March 1989; Republished in: Stewart Home (1996). Analecta. p. 8

  • My early work was philosophic, what would be called epistemology, I was convinced I'd dicredited cognition. When somebody says that all statements are false, the obvious problem is that as an assertion it's self-defeating. I had to find a way to frame this insight which was not self-defeating and that's in "Blueprint", the essay entitled "The Flaws Underlying Beliefs." One has to do what Wittgenstein claimed to do in the "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus," which is to use the ladder and then throw it away. The way I devolved, moved out from, this position of strict cognitive nihilism, was with the idea of building a new culture which would depart profoundly from the scientific culture in which we live.
  • Basically, at this time, I viewed any work of art as an imposition of another persons taste and saw the individual making this imposition as a kind of dictator.
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