Monday, April 16, 2012

Joseph Beuys Art

Joseph Beuys was born in 1921 in Krefeld, a city in northwestern Germany near the Dutch border. He grew up in the nearby towns of Kleve and Rindern, the only child in a middle class, strongly Catholic family.....

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During his youth he pursued dual interests in the natural sciences and art, and he chose a career in medicine. In 1940 he joined the military, volunteering in order to avoid the draft. He was trained as an aircraft radio operator and combat pilot, and during his years of active duty he was seriously wounded numerous times. At the end of the war he was held in a British prisoner-of-war camp for several months, and returned to Kleve in 1945.

During the 1960s and 1970s Beuys was a major pioneer of performance art. In his "actions," as he called them, he used time, sound, and objects as sculptural materials. Many of his sculptures, including those on view here, originated in actions and serve as relics of those events as much as autonomous works. The actions also survive in photographs, films, and video that capture the power with which the artist used his physical and psychic energy to create unforgettable scenarios infused with mythological, historical, and personal resonance. 

Beuys did not consider art to be separate from society, and he devoted the last twenty years of his life to both art and constant activism for socioeconomic reform (he was a founding member of Germany's Green Party). The blackboard diagrams he made during countless public lectures, evoking his early drawings as well as his experience as a professor of art, describe his "social sculpture": the application of creative strategies and ideals to the achievement of a free and democratic world community.

Beuys died in 1986 in Düsseldorf. In the subsequent decade his students have carried on his campaign for change, and his ideas and artwork have continued to spark lively debate.

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