Emmett Williams

Emmett Williams (April 1925 – February 2007)

Emmett Williams was an American poet and visual artist who played a central role in Fluxus and the concrete poetry movement of the mid-20th century. Williams is best known for his ‘Anthology of Concrete Poetry’, a collection of works by international poets and artists, which Williams defined as “direct” poetry, “using the semantic, visual and phonetic elements of language as raw materials” and ‘Sweethearts’.

Williams worked closely with Daniel Spoerri and Claus Bremer between 1957-1959 at the fulcrum of concrete poetry and dynamic theatre in Darmstadt.

In the early 1960s, Williams was the European coordinator for Fluxus and helped to found the Domaine Poetique in Paris.

Between 1966-1970, Williams was the editor, together with Dick Higgins, of Something Else Press, which published numerous books by artists associated with the Fluxus movement.

“Life is a work of art and a work of art is life. Fluxus perceived the entirety of life as a piece of music, as a musical process. I think that the origin of the whole scandal were not the different Fluxus actions, but in fact the philosophy, which was behind it. The idea that everything can be music is the most convincing and simultaneously characteristic feature and renders Fluxus an entity in its own right.”

– Emmett Williams


Official website: http://www.emmett-williams.com/


MoMA profile: https://www.moma.org/artists/6377

Biography: http://archivioconz.com/artist/emmett-williams/

Biography: https://www.fluxus-plus.de/nachrichtendetails/id-10-todestag-emmett-williams.html

Biography: https://www.printedmatter.org/catalog/41532/

Biography: https://www.centerforthehumanities.org/programming/participants/emmett-williams


Williams’ collaboration with Liliana Porter on her portfolio of photo-etchings entitled Wrinkle: https://www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/in-focus/wrinkle/emmett-williams

The poem Duet: https://www.deutschlandfunkkultur.de/fundstueck-211-emmett-williams-duet.2156.de.html?dram:article_id=499432

13 Variations on 6 Words of Gertrude Stein: https://www.maharam.com/stories/giampietro_emmett-williams-13-variations-on-6-words-of-gertrude-stein

Projects with Ay-O and Yo-Yo Ma: https://www.barbarawien.de/exhibition.php?archive=58

The Voy Age, by Emmett Williams, in which he “explores the mechanics of concrete poetry utilizing three-letter words mathematically arranged within the confines of a ten-by-ten grid” [https://www.theideaofthebook.com/pages/books/609/emmett-williams/the-voy-age]

Biography and explanation of Williams’ first ‘dying’ soldiers poem, SOLDIER: https://www.printedmatter.org/catalog/41532/

Four-directional Song of Doubt for Five Voices; Cellar Song for Five Voices; Duet; Emmett Williams, Voice Piece for La Monte Young; Voice Piece for La Monte Young: http://ubu-mirror.ch/sound/williams_e.html

Emmett Williams reading ‘My Life in Flux’: http://www.ann-noel.com/page/cd-videoANN_EMMETT.html


New York Times obituary: https://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/01/obituaries/01williams.html

Der Tagesspiegel obituary: https://www.tagesspiegel.de/kultur/zum-tod-des-fluxus-pioniers-emmett-williams-wer-a-sagt-muss-auch-blub-sagen/811118.html

Visual Exhibits:

72 visual artworks: http://www.artnet.de/k%C3%BCnstler/emmett-williams/

Visual artworks, audio & film: https://www.fondazionebonotto.org/en/collection/fluxus/williamsemmett


Emmett Williams Archive: https://www.getty.edu/research/special_collections/notable/emmett_williams.html

Emmett’s connection to Poland: http://www.art-in-berlin.de/ausstellungs-text.php?id=11054

Emmett Williams’ Ear by Dick Higgins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0dV_Swlqd0&ab_channel=agnesetoniutti