The phenomenon of artists working in several disciplines at the same time is as old as the artistic genres themselves. It was not until the boundaries between the genres were broken down, however, and an interest in synesthesia and universalism developed during modernism that artist-musicians and musician-artists were able to develop within the bounds of an established practice. Various interdisciplinary trends, such as happenings, the Fluxus movement, and multimedia, strongly accelerated this trend during the 1960s. With the belief that intensity comes before virtuosity, the punk movement of the 1970s and 1980s motivated numerous people to reach not only for the guitar but also for the paintbrush. In the age of techno and house music, it was the multifunctionality of the computer that made it possible to work on both images and tracks. Now, since the 1990s, a new self-evidence regarding the freedom to use different forms of expression has burgeoned. Ultimately, it is success and its related economic factors that decide whether people call themselves musicians or artists, even if they themselves have a foot in both camps.
Two models have characterized the nature of the artistic profession over the last centuries. On the one hand, there is the concept of the all-round artist that has prevailed since Leonardo da Vinci, and which to a certain extent also constitutes the intellectual background for the phenomenon of artist-musician/musician-artist. On the other hand, there is the ideal of a clearly specified vocation and the consistent pursuit of a cultural intent. Niklas Luhmann perceives this development of the art system as one of increasing professionalization and differentiation.
Ultimately, it was individual trends in the twentieth century which favored a merging of roles that were decisive in the development of the phenomenon of artist-musician/musician-artist. These were first and foremost cultural movements that proved to be expansive and interdisciplinary. In addition, economic considerations that required a dual cultural function may have entered into play. During some periods, it was easier to earn money with fine art, while at other times music was more lucrative. Overall, the historical aspect thus plays a significant role — not forgetting individual factors such as friendships, important encounters, or special cliques and milieus (for instance, particular clubs). A wide variety of aspects must thus be taken into account when exploring this topic, which proves to be surprisingly complex. As a result, art-history, musicology, cultural sociology, and also economic and psychological considerations must all be incorporated into the analysis.
The shift away from the concept of the autonomy of the arts that has prevailed since the late nineteenth century and the denial of the illusionary nature of painting led to a rejection of traditional approaches and design principles and to a redefinition and reorganization of the esthetic material.
The main focus of modernist art was therefore on the basic elements (color, forms, tones, etc.) and the basic conditions (manner and place of presentation) of artistic production. The ensuing critical analysis of the limitations of established disciplines (painting, music, theater), but also new visual media (photographs and films) as well as the interest in universalism and synesthesia reinforced the trend toward interdisciplinary activity. In striving for a disengagement from the means and a disassociation from the object, the fine artists of the early twentieth century were seeking a new terminology of painting. They chose terms often drawn from music that they adjudicated per se as abstract in character. Thus, visual works at this time were frequently called composition, symphony, improvisation, or rhythm.
Such attempts to extend the boundaries on a conceptual level also have their roots in an actual dual activity, as practiced, for example, by Paul Klee. He earned his living until 1906 as a violinist for the Berne Music Society, but eventually decided to concentrate solely on a career as a fine artist. His painting was by no means unaffected by music — on the contrary: principles of musical form provided the background for Klee’s visual composition and for his pedagogical and theoretical writings. The shapes and structures formed by the superimposition and transfusion of different color surfaces in some of his pictures, such as Polyphon gefasstes Weiss (White Framed Polyphonically; 1930), reflect Klee’s conception of the segmented, composed surface as a multi-voiced, polyphonic form. As a musician-artist, he also to some extent transferred theme development, variation, and even fugue like procedures, as in Fuge in Rot (Fugue in Red; 1921), from musical to pictorial composition.
Close links between music and visual arts are not only to be observed in the works of musicians/artists trained in several disciplines. An interest in the respective other art form undoubtedly went hand in hand with the explicitly interdisciplinary questions that became increasingly frequent, in particular in the context of the emergence of abstraction in painting and later in film.
Wassily Kandinsky, fascinated by the phenomenon of synesthesia and universalistic ideas based in theosophy had close contacts with the prominent representative of musical abstraction, the twelve-tone composer Arnold Schoenberg. Kandinsky recognized a strong affinity between Schoenberg’s music and his abstract ambitions in painting. The painting Impression III (Concert) (1911) was created under the direct influence of one of Schoenberg’s concerts, during which his Second String Quartet op. 10 (1907/1908) was performed. Vice versa, Schoenberg produced a broad oeuvre of paintings, some of which were shown in the first Blaue Reiter exhibition in December 1911 and of which the series Eindrücke und Fantasien (Impressions and Fantasies), in particular, shows an affinity to abstraction.
The dadaist and founder of constructivist film, Hans Richter, was inspired to abstract composition by the composer Ferruccio Busoni, who recommended that he study counterpoint. Musical counterpoint inspired him in his graphic, painterly, and later filmic production — e.g., in his Rhythmus (Rhythm) films — which sought to realize the dynamic clash of dark and light areas as a visual counterpoint.
Busoni also initiated a radical new approach to musical material at the latest with his noted treatise Entwurf einer neuen Ästhetik der Tonkunst (Sletch of a New Esthetic in Music; 1907), in which he argued that the development of musical art also necessitated the development of new musical instruments that went beyond the model of the chromatic keyboard. Finally, the incorporation of noises into musical art, which above all is associated with the efforts of Busoni’s pupil Luigi Russolo (1885–1947), opened up the perspective in a particular way to the other artistic genres. The futurist painter and composer Russolo had theoretically justified ‘noise music’ in 1913 in his Manifesto dell’arte dei rumori (Manifesto on the Art of Noises) and in 1916 in his volume L’Arte dei rumori (The Art of Noise). Together with the painter Ugo Piatti he constructed so-called intonarumori — noise generators that had the characteristics of sculptures. John Cage (1912–1992) also worked with technical media apparatus such as radios and record players, whose use transgressed the boundaries of traditional interpretation and highlighted the performative, situational character of concerts. An important aspect here was the unpredictability and/or indeterminability created by the use of media and of random processes in the practice of composition itself. In addition, Cage deliberately sought collaboration with artists from other disciplines for different projects, such as the painter Robert Rauschenberg and the dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham, for example in the group Experiments in Art and Technology, whose performances (e.g., Nine Evenings; 1966) were perceived as breaking new ground in associations between technology, visual arts, and music.
These approaches were continued in concept art and the Fluxus movement, in which works were dematerialized and became increasingly independent of materials, techniques, media, and genres. As a result, forms of expression were developed that defied any specific categorization in the traditional genres and, for example, combined musical and visual elements in the performative act.
Exemplary for this trend is Nam June Paik, who, proceeding from his musical background, worked in and with different media, experimenting, for example, with audiotape, television, and video. At the same time, he carried forward the actionist approach and also incorporated destructive elements into his compositions, for example in One for Violin Solo (1962), in which he smashed a violin on a table in a kind of ritualistic act.
His long-standing, almost symbiotic collaboration with Charlotte Moorman, who, following a traditional career as an instrumentalist for the American Symphony Orchestra increasingly turned to performance art in the 1960s, was also interdisciplinary.
Another media transgressor is Tony Conrad, who in the 1960s implemented minimalist concepts both in musical and visual form and at the same time explored the materiality of each respective media from its fringe. He explored his interdisciplinary interest in mathematical, harmonious relationships initially as a member of the group Theatre of Eternal Music, to which John Cale and La Monte Young also belonged, and later in his radical film The Flicker (1966).
In addition, Conrad is apparently responsible for the name of the legendary band The Velvet Underground.
Andy Warhol’s interdisciplinary activities culminated in a sense in his collaboration with The Velvet Underground. In the Factory, Warhol, who had already made a name for himself in the 1950s as a commercial artist and then turned primarily to screen print and film in the 1960s, created a location that gradually became a meeting place for actors, musicians, painters, and dancers, and took over the occasional management of the band The Velvet Underground. In 1966, he staged a series of multimedia happenings entitled Exploding Plastic Inevitable that featured, in addition to the band, slide and film projections, and dancers. After he had engaged the German model Christa Päffgen as a singer, he produced, designed, and marketed her debut album The Velvet Underground and Nico, which was released in 1967. Thus, Warhol not only became the personification of the link between pop culture and the art world but also a multiple-personality artist of the kind that would become typical in the decades that followed.
From the 1970s onward, art schools were the point of origin for interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary work. For students they were not so much a desired goal as the lesser evil in third-level educational environment in that they provided enough freedom to be able to develop one’s own ideas. Trends in music such as punk and new wave motivated numerous art students to make music themselves. Art schools were not only the ideal place to perform; the audiences were also more open than elsewhere to unusual musical ideas, crazy outfits, and spectacular performances. The importance of art schools as breeding grounds for noteworthy pop music around 1980 can be seen in the following illustrious lineup of former art students: Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads), Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols), Joe Strummer (The Clash), Marc Almond (Soft Cell), and PJ Harvey all became famous through their music.
Malcolm McLaren, who studied at a variety of different art academies — such as Goldsmith’s College — before going down in the history of pop music as the founder of punk esthetics, played a special role in Britain.
With the aim of provoking and breaking taboos, he not only made the term ‘punk’ popular in England together with the band he managed — the Sex Pistols — but also established punk as a hybrid and alienating style using situationist strategies and in close collaboration with the artist Jamie Reid and with Vivienne Westwood (with whom he ran a boutique, initially called Let it Rock and from 1974 named Sex). In later years, he summarized his ambitions as follows: It was about creating a glorious adventure from non-existent talent and unprofessionalism. Most of my ideas and art products are simply the result of my attitude to life. And are intended to cause unrest.
In the case of the musical genres mentioned here, more importance was placed on the energy of the acoustic expression and the authenticity of the presentation than on musical virtuosity and perfectionism. It was not necessary to provide proof of professional training; on the contrary, at the beginning of the 1980s, an intentional dilettantism was extremely popular both in pop music and in the visual arts.
For a whole series of artist-musicians/musician-artists, the principle that a good punk song only needed three chords applied just as much as the do-it-yourself attitude. The Geniale Dilletanten (Dilettante Geniuses), who took an interdisciplinary approach, were among the bands that emerged from this context. Their work was presented above all at the Festival genialer Dilletanten (Festival of Dilettante Geniuses) held on September 4, 1981, at the Tempodrom venue in Berlin (featuring, among others, Einstürzende Neubauten, Frieder Butzmann, and Christiane F.) and in a book published by Wolfgang Müller in 1982. In the introductory text, Müller explains that he understands genius as an intensity in dealing with the material. Musically speaking, this meant in those days above all that: Anyone can make noise, for that you don’t need digital recording equipment or a 36-track studio with thousands of sophisticated elements. The group founded by Wolfgang Müller, Die Tödliche Doris, was accordingly versatile, releasing records, producing art works, holding performances, and making videos such as the legendary Naturkatastrophenballett (Ballet of Natural Disasters; 1983).
Such a free of approach to the disciplines is characteristic of the 1980s, in which numerous artists did not confine themselves to one form of expression but were filmmakers, painters, performance artists, architects, musicians, authors, critics, and theorists all at the same time, operating in equal measure in various fields, with Warhol as an important point of reference.
The point was not to link different arts with one another but to find an appropriate means of expression for a particular idea, to test concepts in another field, or simply to extend one’s own radius of effect.
Laurie Anderson, for example, had a career both as an artist (as a performance artist she participated in documenta 7, 1982, and documenta 8, 1987) and as a musician (her song O Superman reached no. 2 in the British charts in 1981). In her oeuvre she combines Fluxus tradition with new wave. Her interest in multimedia manifests itself in opulent performances such as the eight-hour opera United States I-IV (1983). Talking Heads member David Byrne, on the other hand, has worked successfully as a director, photographer, and visual artist.
Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth, in addition to her musical career and occasional activities as a music producer, continued to work as a fine artist and curator and acted at the beginning of the 1980s as an art critic for Artforum. Her musical career began when she was invited by Dan Graham to collaborate in a performance with a girl’s band. Graham, who himself never confined himself to one profession but worked simultaneously as a visual artist, critic, cultural theorist, photographer, architect, and gallery owner, was in this sense a defining figure for the self-perception of Kim Gordon and her peers as multiple artists.
One subculture that provided an appropriate breeding ground for such developments was New York’s Lower East Side, in whose galleries and clubs — such as CBGB’s — artists and musicians came together and initiated numerous collaborations. Again, this trend is represented by Sonic Youth, whose musical style is often termed ‘art punk,’ which sums up the band’s synthesis of experimental sounds and punk rock. Since the group was founded, in addition to their own diverse activities, they have worked closely with designers, filmmakers, visual artists, and other musicians, including Mike Kelley, Richard Kern, Raymond Pettibon, and Richard Prince.
While none of these artists were concerned with exchanging one art form for another, purely pragmatic reasons did occasionally prompt such a switch. In the German Democratic Republic, for example, the fact that Cornelia Schleime was prohibited from exhibiting in 1981 caused the artist to join the punk movement and form the band [IMG Zwitschermaschine] before she returned to painting following her move to the Federal Republic of Germany some years later.
The development of the artist-musician/musician-artist gained new impetus from the spread of techno and other new forms of electronic music (house, drum’n’bass, electro, etc.). On the one hand, the computer as a multifunctional tool benefited work in different cultural disciplines; on the other, the club became a place in which visual, filmic, linguistic, and musical forms of expression came together.
In order to be able to independently design the free spaces offered by the club culture, to create platforms and distribution channels for the new underground culture, and to maintain control over their own creative produce, many artists worked as club owners, managers of labels, and producers. These included, among others, Daniel Pflumm with Elektro and Elektro Music Department in Berlin, Emanuel Günther (aka Mooner) with Club le Bomb (together with the Scottish artist Catriona Shaw) and Erkrankung durch Musique in Munich, and Robert Jelinek with Sabotage Communications (with the sub-labels Sabotage Rec., Subetage Rec., and Craft Rec.) in Vienna.
Chicks on Speed also managed a club called Seppi Bar, which intentionally had no fixed location, as their first large, communal manifestation. In order to remain independent in the production and distribution of their musical output, they founded their own label, Chicks On Speed Records, on which they produced several recordings by female musicians and artists (e.g., Angie Reed).
In the politicized concept art of the 1990s there was much talk of cultural producers and cultural workers with reference to these multiple roles. This provided a theoretical position for those who, not least for economic reasons, pursued several cultural activities, e.g. making films, painting pictures, writing texts, and working as DJs.
As a result, there was often not only a division in terms of times of day between their working identities as visual artists and their club activities, but the other identity in fact often went under a different name. Carsten Nicolai, the cofounder of the label noton.archiv für ton und nichtton (1994/1995) and the successive project, raster-noton (1999), appears as a musician under the pseudonyms of noto and alva noto, while as a visual artist he is known by his common name. There are, however, significant associations between his visual and musical works. This is evident, for example, by the fact that he is concerned with macro- and microstructures and minimalist concepts in both forms of expression and often works on making technical or naturally occurring acoustic and optical phenomena visible and audible. Electronic music thus plays a central role in his installations while, on the other hand, he places great importance on the optical presentation of his musical productions, from CD covers to visualizations of his music.
With the digitalization of media and the spread of the computer, visual and musical working methods became technically increasingly aligned with one another.
For example, in the 1990s Mark Leckey used the method of sampling — which had its roots in music — for processing not only sounds but also found footage, creating clips that were similar to music videos. In this way, he incorporated his experience as musician, clubber, and artist in his visual and musical production. He made a name for himself with his film essay Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (1999), in which he highlights the English club scene of the 1980s in a fascinating montage.
The increase in intersections between the fine arts and electronic music was also evidenced by projects that were no longer presented in clubs but also in museums and galleries. Brian Eno, who is considered one of the pioneers of contemporary electronic pop music and who laid the roots for a new form of spatial awareness in this genre by inventing ambient music in 1978, realized an exemplary installation, Music for White Cube, in the London gallery of the same name in 1997.
Since the turn of the millennium, there are still artists and musicians who operate simultaneously in different fields and whose work defies categorization as either art or music because they plan their works from the very beginning to be multimedial and interdisciplinary. This group includes Ryoichi Kurokawa, who perceives his audiovisual performances such as Parallel Head (2008) and Rheo (2009) as time-based sculptures, and Michaela Melián. As a trained musician and fine artist as well as founding member of the band Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle (F.S.K.), the latter incorporates her own compositions as an integral component of her spatial installations such as Panorama II (2004) and Föhrenwald (Pine Forest; 2005). The simultaneous autonomy of these soundtracks is shown by the fact that both were later released as CDs to a positive reception in the music press.
At the same time, in the pop music scene of recent years, in particular, the dual profession of artist-musician/musician-artist is no longer anything of note. Irrespective of autonomous decisions by artists/musicians, PR strategies demonstrate how an artist or musician’s own cultural product can benefit from the adaptation of the respective other system. By giving something the label art or pop, it is possible to generate symbolic and, as a result, commercial capital.
In recent times, in particular, the definition Art School has been increasingly used as a predicate in the music business. In the promotion of Franz Ferdinand, the fact that they are an art-school band from Glasgow was publicized from the very beginning. Their clips with art-history references and an exhibition opening as the setting (Do You Want To) reinforce this image. On the other hand, art schools, for example St. Martins College in London, use famous graduates such as pop stars who studied at their institute as a means of promotion. Not only PJ Harvey, Sade, and Jarvis Cocker (Pulp), but also the successful British dance-music producer M.I.A., all graduated from this school. Even the eccentric cover that the latter designed herself indicates that she has a degree in art. She was nominated for the Alternative Turner Prize in 2001.
Apart from any kind of marketing-strategy considerations, it seems that in particular those musicians who have chosen to study art have sought to break new ground in pop music. For in comparison to other cultural disciplines, a particularly integrative and experimental system has developed in the fine arts, which have embraced a broad variety of cultural activities: film and video, sound art, and, last but not least, pop music.
 Niklas Luhmann, Die Ausdifferenzierung des Kunstsystems, (Berne: Benteli, 1994).
 In a letter to Schoenberg he wrote: In your works, you have realized what I, albeit in uncertain form, have so greatly longed for in music. The independent progress through their own destinies, the independent life of the individual voices in your compositions, is exactly what I am trying to find in my paintings. (Letter from W. Kandinsky to A. Schoenberg, January 18, 1911, in: Arnold Schönberg — Wassily Kandinsky. Letters, Pictures and Documents, ed. Jelena Hahl-Koch, trans. John C. Crawford (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), 21.
 A title used by the Arnold Schönberg Center, cf. http://schoenberg.at/6_archiv/paintings/catalogue/fantasien/074.htm (accessed August 18, 2009).
 Cf. Hans Richter, Dada — Kunst und Antikunst. Der Beitrag Dadas zur Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts (Cologne: DuMont Schauberg, 1978), 62.
 “Manifesto dell’arte dei rumori” in Luigi Russolo, L’Arte dei rumori (Milan: Edizioni Futuriste di Poesia, 1916).
 Cf. Dick Higgins, “Synesthesia and Intersenses: Intermedia 1965,” Something Else Newsletter 1, vol. 1 (1966), reproduction printed as Dick Higgins and Hannah Higgins, “Intermedia,” Leonardo. Journal of the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology, 34, no. 1 (2001): 49–54; available online at http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/leonardo/v034/34.1higgins.html, accessed August 28, 2009.
 Christian Höller, “Der Medien-Entgrenzer: Über Tony Conrads vielseitiges Schaffen von 1960 bis heute,” in Katalog Wien Modern 2008, ed. Berno Odo Polzer (Saarbrücken: Pfau, 2008), 113–117; available online at http://www.wienmodern.at/Portals/0/Galerie/Conrad_Tony/Katalog%202008_Christian%20Höller,%20Der%20Medien-Entgrenzer%20(c)%20Wien%20Modern.pdf (accessed August 28, 2009).
 The group used this name from 1965 onwards.
 Tony Conrad introduced the name to the band after coming across Michael Leigh’s book of the same name that dealt with sadomasochism and deviant sexual behavior among the U.S. middle classes.
 Except for the song Sunday Morning, which was produced by Tom Wilson.
 Other British art students who followed a musical career included Adam Ant (Adam and the Ants), Viv Albertine (The Slits), Graham Lewis and Rob Gotobed (both of Wire), Lora Logic (X-Ray Spex), Mike Barson (Madness), John Foxx (Ultravox), and Jo Callis (The Human League). Cf. Simon Frith and Howard Horne, Art into Pop (London: Methuen, 1987), 125–126. In the United States, Patti Smith, James Chance, Chris Stein (Blondie), and Alan Vega (Suicide), among others, all studied at art academies. In German-speaking countries, too, there were numerous art-school graduates who turned to music. These include, for example, Albert Oehlen, Markus Oehlen (Mittagspause), Walter Dahn (Die Hornissen), Salomé and Luciano Castelli (Geile Tiere), Christian Ludwig aka Chrislo Haas (Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft [DAF]), Claudia Schifferle (Kleenex; subsequently Liliput), and Franz Pomassl.
 Other British art students who followed a musical career included Adam Ant (Adam and the Ants), Viv Albertine (The Slits), Graham Lewis and Rob Gotobed (both of Wire), Lora Logic (X-Ray Spex), Mike Barson (Madness), John Foxx (Ultravox), and Jo Callis (The Human League). Cf. Simon Frith and Howard Horne, Art into Pop (London: Methuen, 1987), 125–126. In the United States, Patti Smith, James Chance, Chris Stein (Blondie), and Alan Vega (Suicide), among others, all studied at art academies. Roger Waltz, “Ein Interview mit Malcolm McLaren,” ZKM Online (1998), http://on1.zkm.de/zkm/stories/storyReader$1165 (accessed August 29, 2009). — Trans. G. M. Notwithstanding his extensive pursuits in cultural activism, McLaren never entirely abandoned his own artistic ambitions. After the Sex Pistols was disbanded, he re-emerged as the producer of Adam Ant, Bow Wow Wow, and Boy George, but from 1980 onward also released numerous singles and albums himself, in which he tried his hand at hip-hop, opera, and waltz music, for example. In September 2000, ZKM in Karlsruhe presented McLaren’s solo exhibition Casino of Authenticity and Karaoke, while his most recent video work, Shallow 1-21, was shown in 2008 in a Berlin gallery.
 Wolfgang Müller, “Die wahren Dilletanten,” in Geniale Dilletanten (Berlin: Merve, 1982), 10.
 Müller, “Die wahren Dilletanten,” 10.
 Cf. Max Dax and Jan Kedves, “Sensationelle Korrekturen der eigenen Geschichte. Kim Gordon / Sonic Youth,” (interview) Spex, 319 (March–April 2009): 94–99.
 Mike Kelley produced the artwork for Sonic Youth’s album Dirty in 1992. The artist himself was a member of the band Destroy all Monsters. Early U.S. punk served as a constant source of inspiration for his artistic production. Richard Kern directed the video Death Valley 69 in 1985; Richard Prince designed the cover for Sonic Nurse; while Raymond Pettibon designed the cover for Goo.
 The name is probably a reference to Paul Klee’s painting Die Zwitschermaschine (Twitter-Machine; 1922).
 Pflumm was also cofounder of the club Botschaft e.V., which was not only a bar but also the name of an interdisciplinary artist group.
 Other British art students who followed a musical career included Adam Ant (Adam and the Ants), Viv Albertine (The Slits), Graham Lewis and Rob Gotobed (both of Wire), Lora Logic (X-Ray Spex), Mike Barson (Madness), John Foxx (Ultravox), and Jo Callis (The Human League). Cf. Simon Frith and Howard Horne, Art into Pop (London: Methuen, 1987), 125–126. In the United States, Patti Smith, James Chance, Chris Stein (Blondie), and Alan Vega (Suicide), among others, all studied at art academies. Roger Waltz, “Ein Interview mit Malcolm McLaren,” ZKM Online (1998), http://on1.zkm.de/zkm/stories/storyReader$1165 (accessed August 29, 2009). — Trans. G. M. Leckey is a professor at the Frankfurt Städelschule art academy and a member of the bands donAteller and Jack Too Jack.
 The soundtracks Baden-Baden and Los Angeles were released on Monika Records, the label of Gudrun Gut, a former student of the Hochschule der Künste (art academy) and member of the bands Mania D and Malaria.
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