Robert Filliou is born in Sauve, Southern France, in 1926. After collaborating with the résistance, he immigrates to the USA in 1946, where he works as a temporary worker. In 1948 he begins to study economics at the University of California in Los Angeles auf, which he concludes in1951. That same year Filliou relocates to Southern-Korea and works for the »University of California Extension Program«, later for the »United Nations Korean Reconstruction Agency«. In the following years he changes his domicile often because of his work as a free-lance writer. He moves in 1954 to Egypt and lives between 1955 and 1957 in Spain and returns to France in 1959.
In 1959 Filliou meets the action artist Daniel Spoerri. He begins to work as an artist (Le collage de l’immortelle mort du monde), from 1960 he also produces films and videos and has a show in 1961 in the Gallery Addi Koepcke in Copenhagen. With the founding of »Galerie Légitime« he begins in 1962 to make small exhibitions of his work and that of colleagues and to show them in the streets of Paris. Together with George Brecht he manages from the mid 1960s the store »La Cédille qui sourit«. In 1966 the artists develop a joint exhibition project first in Villefranche-sur-Mer under the same name. Their works are exhibited under this title in Mönchengladbach at the end of the 60’s. In 1967 Filliou lives in New York, and between 1968 and 1974 with interruptions in Düsseldorf.
The cooperative creation process is given a higher status in Filliou’s work than the mastery accomplished in an »own-label« production. The cooperation corresponds to a critical position against utilitarianism and product orientation (Stuhl, 1969) and is tantamount to a plea for new forms of communication. This is expressed equally in the individual work, in cooperation with (Emmett Williams, George Brecht, Marcel Broodthaers), but also in the Fluxus-Aktions in which Filliou participates. His works influenced by a Buddhistic world view often have an ironic undertone, creating counter worlds that place the rational logic and knowledge in question and move the individual in to the foreground (Geflüsterte Geschichte der Kunst, presented in the context of an exhibition in Aachen, and mountable sculpture such asRecherche sur l’origine,1974; Prototype Optimum nø 00, 1978 in the Centre Pompidou, Paris). Filliou’s video and film productions (with Bob Guiny »L’Hommage à Méliès«) document a view of art, life and history that is often ironic. Filliou published directions for Happenings and poetry in Cologne (»Teaching and Learning as Performing Arts«).
From 1980 to 1984 Filliou is a guest professor at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Hamburg. In 1984 a retrospective is dedicated to him in Nîmes, Basel, Hamburg and Paris. The same year Robert Filliou retreats to the Buddhist cloister Chanteloube near Les Eyzies in the Dordogne where he dies on December 1, 1987.
Robert Filliou: Ausst.-Kat. Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona; Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf; Musée d’Art Moderne, Villeuneuve-d’Ascq, Düsseldorf 2003
Genie ohne Talent: Ausst.-Kat., Stuttgart 2003
Robert Filliou: Ausst.-Kat. Galerie der Stadt Remscheid, Remscheidt 1997
Robert Filliou, 1926 — 1987, Zum Gedächtnis: Ausst.-Kat. Städt. Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf 1988
Robert Filliou: Ausst.-Kat. Städt. Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf 1974