Skip to main content

The Iceman Cometh to the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern

Block and department of art theory and practice to re-stage artist Allan Kaprow’s “Fluids”

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Conceptual artist Allan Kaprow’s seminal sculpture/performance work “Fluids” will be recreated on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus in an event presented by the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art and the department of art theory and practice Monday, May 21.

Between 1 and 4 p.m. Northwestern students, faculty and staff will stack approximately 375 blocks of ice to build a monumental structure on the plaza outside the Block Museum at 40 Arts Circle Drive.

Kaprow, one of the most influential American artists of the 20th century, coined the term “happening” to describe an event or situation performed in the name of art. Kaprow intended “Fluids,” first conceived and executed in 1967, to be staged again by others. This will mark the first time it has been recreated in the Midwest.

Once completed, the work will be allowed to melt away, a process that will take anywhere from eight hours to three days, depending on weather conditions. Viewing of the “Fluids” project is free and open to the public. The Block will post updates of its construction and its dissolution on its Twitter account, @NUBlockMuseum

The project at Northwestern grew out of a class taught by Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, a MacArthur Foundation Fellow and internationally renowned artist. “In the department of art theory and practice, we teach students that art is limited to neither the object nor the classroom,” Manglano-Ovalle said. “Kaprow’s ideas have forever altered the way we consider the practice and instruction of art. The reenactment of ‘Fluids’ is a demonstration of his edict, ‘every man an artist.’” 

“This is a wonderful metaphor for what a museum like the Block should be,” said Lisa Corrin, the Block Museum’s Ellen Philips Katz Director. “It should be fluid and in a state of constant flux and responsive to the changes in its surrounding context.” 

Upon completion of the structure, Manglano-Ovalle, students and members of the Block Museum staff will participate in a program that will include readings from Kaprow’s influential writings on art and everyday life. 

The construction of “Fluids” at Northwestern coincides with a reception at the Block Museum Monday evening welcoming more than 100 art museum directors from around the country to Chicago for the Association of Art Museum Directors annual meeting. 

For more information, visit or call (847) 491-4000.
Back to top