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Joseph Beuys
Artist

Joseph Beuys was born in 1921, in Krefeld, Germany. During his school years in Kleve, Beuys was exposed to the work of Achilles Moortgat, whose studio he often visited, and was inspired by the sculptures of Wilhelm Lehmbruck. Beuys began to study medicine in 1940, but his studies were interrupted when he joined the army and served as a fighter pilot. During a mission in 1943, he was badly injured when his plane crashed in a desolate region of south Russia. This experience would resonate in all of his later work.

After the war, he decided to dedicate his life to art. In 1947, he registered at the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he studied under Joseph Enseling and Ewald Mataré. After Beuys graduated in 1951, the brothers Franz Joseph and Hans van der Grinten began to collect his work. Eventually becoming his most important patrons, they organized his first solo show at their house in Kranenburg in 1953. Beuys was appointed professor of monumental sculpture at the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 1961. The year after, he began to associate with Fluxus artists, principally Nam June Paik and George Maciunas, and later he met Minimalist artist Robert Morris. He helped to organize the Festum Fluxorum Fluxus at the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 1963, and he participated for the first time in Documenta in Kassel in 1964.

In 1967, Beuys founded the German Student Party, one of the numerous political groups that he organized during the next decade. In 1972, he was dismissed from the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf amid great controversy for admitting to his class over 50 students who previously had been rejected. The following year, he founded the Free International University for Creativity and Interdisciplinary Research. He increasingly became involved in political activities and in 1976 ran for the German Bundestag. In 1978, he was made a member of the Akademie der Kunst, Berlin. The 1970s were also marked by numerous exhibitions throughout Europe and the United States. Beuys represented Germany at the Venice Biennale in 1976 and 1980. A retrospective of his work was held at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1979. He was made a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Stockholm, in 1980. During the inauguration of the 1982 Documenta in Kassel, Beuys planted the first of 7,000 oak trees; in other cities, he repeated this tree-planting action several times in the following years. In January 1986, the artist received the Wilhelm Lehmbruck Prize in Duisburg. On January 23, 1986, Beuys died in Düsseldorf.

[Guggenheim]

Joseph Beuys
Artist

Joseph Beuys was born in 1921, in Krefeld, Germany. During his school years in Kleve, Beuys was exposed to the work of Achilles Moortgat, whose studio he often visited, and was inspired by the sculptures of Wilhelm Lehmbruck. Beuys began to study medicine in 1940, but his studies were interrupted when he joined the army and served as a fighter pilot. During a mission in 1943, he was badly injured when his plane crashed in a desolate region of south Russia. This experience would resonate in all of his later work.

After the war, he decided to dedicate his life to art. In 1947, he registered at the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he studied under Joseph Enseling and Ewald Mataré. After Beuys graduated in 1951, the brothers Franz Joseph and Hans van der Grinten began to collect his work. Eventually becoming his most important patrons, they organized his first solo show at their house in Kranenburg in 1953. Beuys was appointed professor of monumental sculpture at the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 1961. The year after, he began to associate with Fluxus artists, principally Nam June Paik and George Maciunas, and later he met Minimalist artist Robert Morris. He helped to organize the Festum Fluxorum Fluxus at the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 1963, and he participated for the first time in Documenta in Kassel in 1964.

In 1967, Beuys founded the German Student Party, one of the numerous political groups that he organized during the next decade. In 1972, he was dismissed from the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf amid great controversy for admitting to his class over 50 students who previously had been rejected. The following year, he founded the Free International University for Creativity and Interdisciplinary Research. He increasingly became involved in political activities and in 1976 ran for the German Bundestag. In 1978, he was made a member of the Akademie der Kunst, Berlin. The 1970s were also marked by numerous exhibitions throughout Europe and the United States. Beuys represented Germany at the Venice Biennale in 1976 and 1980. A retrospective of his work was held at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1979. He was made a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Stockholm, in 1980. During the inauguration of the 1982 Documenta in Kassel, Beuys planted the first of 7,000 oak trees; in other cities, he repeated this tree-planting action several times in the following years. In January 1986, the artist received the Wilhelm Lehmbruck Prize in Duisburg. On January 23, 1986, Beuys died in Düsseldorf.

[Guggenheim]

RELATED ARTICLES
New Year / 2024
Passage from the Other World
At the end of my suffering there was a door. Hear me out: that which you call death I remember...
+
Our 6th Year Anniversary
ARTPIL / Prescription .141
We are rounding out our fifth year with nearly 3 million visits strong. A very exciting journey it has been, indeed.
+
ARTPIL / Prescription .138
Beauty Is Not Enough
You can no longer quiet me with the redness of little leaves opening stickily. I know what I know....
+
Edition Block 1966–2022
Feb 10, 2023 – Feb 25, 2024
Since the 1960s, René Block has been a key figure in the European art world, his gallery helping to shape art history.
+
Nam June Paik
Oct 17, 2019 – Feb 9, 2020
This major exhibition brings together over 200 works from throughout his five-decade career, from robots made from old TV...
+
Jannis Kounellis
May 28 – July 27, 2019
With works from 1960–2014, the exhibition intends to act as an extensive overview of the artist’s career, tracing his...
+
Beuys / Directed by Andres Veiel
Various engagements / 2018
The documentary Beuys is not a portrait in the traditional sense, but an intimate and in-depth look at a...
+
The Remains of Cinema
February 10 – April 22, 2018
Crossing genres and generations, this exhibition contrasts artistic positions with selected examples of historical films to trace the impact...
+
Melancholia
Mar 15 – Aug 19, 2018
Works by modern and contemporary artists explore issues such as nostalgia for a bygone era, for the depiction of...
+
A Tale of Two Worlds
Jul 13 – Oct 14, 2018
A landmark event, this exhibition places masterpieces from the MMK Frankfurt collection in a deep and meaningful dialogue with...
+
This is Not America
December 3-9, 2018
The first Faena Festival is an exploration of America as a concept, myth and narrative, dividing us at times,...
+
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