Joseph BEUYS (1921 - 1986)
Born in 1921 in Krefeld (Germany), died in 1986 in Düsseldorf (Germany)
Joseph Beuys' work, in all its complexity, is the inscription in space and time of a utopian and visionary reflection on contemporary society.
His sculptures, paintings, drawings, assemblages, environments, actions, speeches and writings systematically converge on the human being in an essential dimension:
a dialogue based on a critique of everyday life.
It was in the 1950s that Beuys created his own legend by publishing the story of his rescue by peasants in the Crimea in 1943, when, as the pilot of a downed German bomber, he was covered with felt and animal fat, according to an ancestral technique for preventing hypothermia. From then on, his work focused on the themes of resurrection, vital energy and the relationship of the individual with the group and the cosmos.
Joseph Beuys was appointed professor of sculpture at the Düsseldorf Academy in 1961.
He was involved in the Fluxus movement, which advocated "performance" and "environments".
For Beuys, as for the protagonists of this movement, art is life.
The act, the art in action, is more important than the work of art.
Beuys was involved in various political activities. He campaigned for direct democracy, the environment and other socio-political causes.
In 1967 he founded the German Student Party and in 1970 the Organisation of Non-voters.
He even ran for the Bundestag.
He was dismissed from the Düsseldorf Academy in 1972 for supporting student protesters but was reinstated six years later. The following year he founded the Free International University for Creativity and Interdisciplinary Research.
He developed his concept of "social sculpture" to achieve a more just society. Joseph Beuys believed that everyone is an artist, and that if everyone uses their creativity, everyone will be free.
The 1970s were also marked by numerous exhibitions. In 1978, he was made a member of the Berlin Academy of Art. In January 1986, the artist was awarded the Wilhelm Lehmbruck Prize in Duisburg.
On 18 May 1979, Beuys and Andy Warhol met for the first time at the Hans Mayer Gallery in Düsseldorf.
Mayer Gallery in Düsseldorf. On this occasion, Beuys creates the multiple Das Warhol-Beuys Ereignis (The Warhol-Beuys Event) while Warhol begins a series of portraits of Beuys.
On 2 November, the first major retrospective of the artist's work is held at the Salomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.
In the early 1980s Joseph Beuys donates about 1000 works to the Sztuki Museum in Lödz, Poland. This action should be understood as a symbolic gesture against the division of Europe into two blocs.
In 1982, for Documenta 7 in Kassel, Beuys began the planting of 7,000 oak trees, an action that continued for several years, throughout the world, even after the artist's death.
Each oak is associated with a column of basalt. The 7,000 basalt columns are placed in a heap in a park in Kassel at the beginning of the action. Buyers pay five hundred Deutsch Mark to plant a tree at the foot of which the basalt column is placed, and receive a receipt.
In this way people can follow the course of the action, depending on the pile of basalt columns.
There is also an interaction between the fixed-dimension mineral of basalt and the growing tree: at first the tree is smaller, then it becomes larger than the stone.
Beuys' intention in this action is 'to sound the alarm against all forces that destroy nature and life'.
Joseph Beuys died on 23 January 1986 in Düsseldorf.
Ombelico di Venere - Cotyledon Umbilicus Veneris)
42 x 50 cm
Herbarium (dried flower on paper)
84 x 59 cm
Affiche d’exposition signée par Beuys