Died: 1986, Düsseldorf, Germany
Beuys, like Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol, precisely orchestrated his public image, building a personal myth that has the power to bind together his entire oeuvre. Thinking Is Form: The Drawings of Joseph Beuys
(pictured right) attempts to break through the mass of obscurantist writing about Joseph Beuys, to introduce him in a simple and clear manner through his individual drawings, used here as the basis for discussions of his life, art and ideas. Some employ such media as hare's blood or margarine, or are realized on envelopes, emphasizing their function as a reservoir of ideas for Beuy's sculpture, "actions", performance art and other enterprises.
01.12.11: Biog. I - Iconic German Artist
Joseph Beuys was born May 12, 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 [more] 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 Documentain 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.
01.12.11: BIOG. II
Joseph Beuys Germany's most
influential post-war artist. An early interest in
natural history, country lore and mythology left
evident traces in his visionary and extremly
diverse work: he was a Performance artist
(How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare, 1965,
Coyote, 1974), a sculptor (Fat Corner, 1964), lecturer, assembler of installations of
gigantic scale (Tallow, 1977) and founder of
Organization for Direct Democracy (1972),
after becoming involved in the political arenna.
Beuys also made video art (Felt TV, 1968) and
drawings. What characterized his work generally was a deep belief in the power of intuition
as expressed in the parallel between the artist
and the shaman: both invest simple materials
with intense and potentially healing power
(Show your wound, 1976).
Source: The Thames and Hudson Dictionary of Art and Artists (World of Art)