Born in Richmond Hill, Borough of Queens, New York City in 1927, Hansen joined the US Air Force, served his country as a paratrooper in World War II and was honorably discharged. During his time with the Army of Occupation in Frankfurt, Germany, he pushed a piano off the top of a 5 story bombed out building. Later, back in New York City and all over the world, he performed this act many times. He later titled it “Yoko Ono Piano Drop” after his friend and contemporary.
As an early member of the Fluxus Art Group his pieces were performed at several early international Fluxus Festivals. His pioneering work in the fields of “performance art” and “Happenings” is well documented. In 1965 he wrote the seminal performance art book, “A Primer of Happenings and Time Space Art” published by Something Else Press. As an habitué of Andy Warhol’s Factory, he was both influenced by and influenced the 1960′s pop art movement.
In addition to Performance Art, he created thousands of collages mainly based around the image of the Venus Figure. Eternally fascinated by the Venus of Willendorf, he strove to continue the connection between those first primal art instincts and his own body of work. As a student of John Cage at the New School for Social Research in New York City he learned the value of persistence. John Cage remained a friend and a fan of Hansen’s until his death. In an interview conducted shortly before his death, he continued to praise the merits of the work of Al Hansen.
In the early 1980′s Hansen moved to Cologne, Germany and established an art school. It is called the Ultimate Akademie and continues to be an integral part of the world’s premier art city. Many artists from all over the world have participated in exhibitions and events at the Ultimate Akademie. Most, credit his influence for their continued commitment to the artisitic process and it’s rewards.