Öyvind Fahlström was born in 1928 in Sao Paolo, Brazil, to Swedish and Norwegian parents. In 1939, at the age of ten, he was sent to Sweden to visit his grandfather and his aunt, where he remained until he was reunited with his parents in 1947. Following compulsory military service, Fahlström entered the University of Stockholm, where he studied art history and classical archaeology. He supported himself with his writing until 1968, and continued to publish regularly until his death.
Beginning in the early ’50s Fahlström experimented with different art forms, writing poetry, theater scripts, and art criticism. Between 1957 and 1961, Fahlström continued to experiment with and further develop his signature motifs of “character forms” and “informal” background, involving the fragmenting of black-and-white drawings and comic strips. which he first developed in 1951-2.
In 1961, Fahlström won a scholarship to live and work in New York. He had already met and befriended a number of New York artists in Stockholm in the late ‘fifties, among them Robert Rauschenberg. That year he moved into Rauschenberg’s studio at 128 Front Street (Jasper Johns lived in the same building). From 1962 to 1968, Fahlström was one of the most active creators of Happenings in New York, Stockholm and Paris. He created a major work, Kisses Sweeter Than Wine for the E.A.T.-sponsored Nine Evenings at the Armory in 1966.
In 1969, Fahlström was honored with a traveling retrospective organised by The Museum of Modern Art in New York. He had subsequent exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, among others. He died of colon cancer in Stockholm on November 9, 1976 at the age of forty-seven.