Joseph Beuys

Born in 1921 - Germany


Joseph Beuys (12 May 1921 – 23 January 1986) was a German Fluxus, happening and performance artist as well as a sculptor, installation artist, graphic artist, art theorist and pedagogue of art.

Joseph Beuys was born in Krefeld in 1921. From an early age Beuys displayed a keen interest in the natural sciences and had considered a career in medical studies before volunteering for the Luftwaffe in 1940. On 16 March 1944 Beuys’s JU87 plane crashed on the Crimean Front and Beuys later recounted how he had been rescued from the crash by Tartar tribesmen, who had wrapped his broken body in animal fat and felt and nursed him back to health.

Through his drawing practice, Joseph Beuys explored a range of unconventional materials and developed his artistic agenda, exploring metaphorical and symbolic connections between natural phenomena and philosophical systems. In 1962 Beuys befriended his Düsseldorf colleague Nam June Paik, a member of the Fluxus movement.

It was during the 1960s that Beuys formulated his central theoretical concepts concerning the social, cultural and political function and potential of art. This translated into Beuys’s formulation of the concept of Social Sculpture, in which society as a whole was to be regarded as one great work of art (the Wagnerian Gesamtkunswerk) to which each person can contribute creatively. Beuys founded (or co-founded) the following political organisations: German Student Party (1967), Organization for Direct Democracy Through Referendum (1971), and Free International University for Creativity and Interdisciplinary Research (1974).

Beuys became a pacifist, was a vocal opponent of nuclear weapons and campaigned strenuously for environmental causes. He died on January 1986 in Düsseldorf.

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1964 documenta, Kassel, Germany
1972 documenta, Kassel, Germany
1974 Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, UK
1976 Venice Biennale, Italy
1979 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, U.S.
1980 Rocca Paolina, Perugia, Italy
1984 Seibu Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan
1986 Marisa del Re Gallery, New York City, January–February 1986
2005 Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom 'Joseph Beuys: Actions, Vitrines, Environments'.
2006 Museum kunst palast, Düsseldorf; Kunstmuseum Bonn; Museum Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin
2006 The David Winton Bell Gallery, Brown University, Providence, U.S.
2007 Zwirner & Wirth, New York City, U.S.
2007 National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia - Imagination, Inspiration, Intuition (Joseph Beuys & Rudolf Steiner)
2008/2009 Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, Germany - Beuys. We are the Revolution, Video at VernissageTV
2009 Museum of Modern Art - Focus on Joseph Beuys on Artbase.
2009 Beuys is Here, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex
2010 Joseph Beuys - A Revolução Somos Nós ("Joseph Beuys - We are the revolution"), Sesc Pompéia, São Paulo, Brasil

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