24 years after his death, artist, teacher, and activist
Joseph Beuys (1921 1986) is celebrated with an
all-inclusive exhibition organized in his hometown
DAfÂ1sseldorf. A highly controversial artist during his
lifetime, for whom artistic practice, teaching and
political activism were were wedded to each other, he
is considered today one of the most important figures
of 20th century avant-garde art, mentioned in the
same breath as Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol.
He revolutionized sculpture by using new materials
such as felt, honey and grease, which enabled him
to explore and represent psychological subjects of
unparalleled breadth and intensity. Making our notion
of sculpture flow and expand, he also dissolved it by
translating his vision into actions that oscillated between
happenings and mime and reminded many viewers
of shaman rituals.
In his early drawings based on abstract forms Beuys
developed an idiosyncratic iconography palpitating
between fairy tale and fantasy.