Marja-Leena Rathje
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Art's Birthday


"Today, a unique birthday is being celebrated around the world: Art's Birthday. That's not Art as in someone named Art but as in art, the kind of stuff created by artists. Art is now 1,000,044 years old."

I didn't know this! My eye was caught by an article in the Vancouver Sun (unfortunately available online by subscription only) titled "A big draw: celebrating Art's Birthday, Canadian artists follow lead of Frenchman Filliou" by Kevin Griffin. I've quoted some of his words above. Griffin also wrote: "In giving art a birthday, Filliou wanted to draw attention to the idea of art as permanent creation" and "He believed art should be part of daily life."

There's some interesting history in the article that I wish you could read. So, I learn there's a website for Art's Birthday with some history at the 'chronology' link. According to this site:

" 'Art's Birthday' is an annual event first proposed in 1963 by French artist Robert Filliou. He suggested that 1,000,000 years ago, there was no art. But one day, on the 17th of January to be precise, Art was born. According to Filliou, it happened when someone dropped a dry sponge into a bucket of water. Modest beginnings, but look at us now. Filliou proposed a public holiday to celebrate the presence of art in our lives. In recent years, the idea has been taken up by a loose network of artists and friends around the world. Each year the Eternal Network evolves to include new partners - working with the ideas of exchange and telecommunications-art."

In Vancouver, the Western Front joins in with a Festival from January 14 - 20, 2007 Art's Birthday 2007: The 100th Anniversary of Radio: network vs propaganda.

PHOTO above: Robert Filliou lighting the cake at Art's 1,000,010th Birthday Celebration, Aachen 1973. Photo: Neue Galerie, Stadt im alten Kurhaus, Aachen (scanned from - Robert Filliou: From Political to Poetical Economy, Morris and Helen Belkin Gallery, Vancouver, 1995, ISBN 0-88865-308-5). From Art's Birthday

Marja-Leena | 17/01/2007 | 10 comments
themes: Art Exhibitions


Hey Dave, I agree! But it has spawned a great deal of collaborative art projects around the world on the birthday, so that's a good thing.

Cave people had sponges?
Made me chuckle, made connections, can't be bad.

Lucy, the sponge and bucket story is rather funny, eh! Yes, we can appreciate humour, connections and all that in this too serious world.

Huh! Who knew! ;-)

MB - yeah, one always learns something new, and sometimes quirky things too!

Happy Birthday, art. Can you imagine blowing out 1,000,044 candles?

Hi Bobby and welcome! No I can't imagine that. Can you imagine lighting 1,000,044 candles? Fireworks might be easier.

Oh, what fun! Sorry I missed it. We would have toasted to art with our margaritas last night! I'll have to put it on my birthdays list next year. :-)

Leslee, 'tis a cool birthday to remember and toast! Glad you enjoyed this bit of fun.