Joseph Beuys | the artist
The artist Joseph Beuys
Born May 12 1921, Kleve, Germany.
Died Jan 23 1986, Dusseldorf, .
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Beuys often said that his interest in fat and felt as sculptural materials grew out of a wartime experience a plane crash in the Crimea, after which he was rescued by nomadic Tartars who rubbed him with fat and wrapped him in felt to heal and warm his body. While the story appears to have little grounding in real events (Beuys himself downplayed its importance in a 1980 interview), its poetics are strong enough to have made the story one of the most enduring aspects of his mythic biography.
His most important students: Peter Angermann, Lothar Baumgarten, Walter Dahn, Felix Droese, Imi Giese, Jörg Immendorff, Anselm Kiefer, Imi Knoebel, Inge Mahn, Ulrich Meister, Meuser, Blinky Palermo, Katharina Sieverding and Norbert Tadeusz.
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Beuys worked with the avant-garde art group known as Fluxus. It was during this period that he began to stage “actions,” where he would perform works in a ritualistic way. One of the best known of these was How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare from 1965. Beuys covered his head with honey and gold leaf, wore one shoe with felt on its sole, another soled with iron. He walked through an art gallery for two hours, explaining the art hanging there to a dead hare that he carried…
joseph beuys…abstract energy
Painter, sculptor, teacher, performance artist, activist, theorist. German-born Joseph Beuys is considered one of the most influential avant-garde artists of modern times.
Beuys regarded teaching as an essential element of his work as an artist. He was a profoundly charismatic and inspirational professor at the Düsseldorf Academy of Art, where he taught a generation of German artists. Beuyss relationship with the authorities at the academy was always stormy, and he was dismissed in 1972. However, by then he was expounding his theories of sculpture, democracy and green politics at conferences and art galleries around the world…
One of Joseph Beuys’s most theatrical installations, Lightning with Stag in Its Glare (Blitzschlag mit Lichtschein auf Hirsch) articulates the German artist’s obsession with the earth, animals, and death. The arrangement of this mysterious grouping suggests a natural site, like a forest clearing in which the stag (represented by an ironing board resting on wooden “Iegs”), the excremental forms of the “primordial animals” (made by plunging tools into piles of clay), and a goat (the hapless three-wheeled cart) are illuminated by a powerful lightning bolt (the weighty triangular form that hangs precariously from a beam). The artist is the human witness to this mythic, symbolic narrative (dominated, as always in Beuys’s work, by animals), appearing obliquely in the form of the cast block of earth atop an old sculptor’s modeling base…
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