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Joseph Beuys - performing life

Updated on February 8, 2013

Everyone is an artist!

This famous slogan by Joseph Beuys points to the importance of creativity in life, for everybody - not just something special reserved for artists!

Beuys demonstrated with his own life how the creativity and sensitivity towards the world around us can make the ups and downs life brings us much more tolerable.

Performance was one of the fields that Beuys often worked with. The "How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare" has became the most beloved one for me personally. I often refer to the "I Like America and America Likes Me" from 1974, where Beuys spent three days in a room in New York with a coyote.

' To make people free is the aim of art, therefore

art for me is the science of freedom. '

Joseph Beuys

"I Like America and America Likes Me"

Joseph Beuys in America - Energy Plan for the Western Man

The Energy Plan for the Western Man by Joseph Beuys is a thought provoking read.

Joseph Beuys opens an interesting angle relevant to the current discussion around the green values. Highly recommended!

' When I say everybody is an artist, I mean everybody

can determine the content of life in his particular sphere,

whether in painting, music, engineering, caring for the sick,

the economy or whatever. All around us the fundamentals

of life are crying out to be shaped or created. '

Joseph Beuys

What Is Art? - Conversation with Joseph Beuys

What Is Art? by Joseph Beuys is one of the keys this remarkable Artist offers for us to his realm, where the core questions predominant also in the today's discourse are opened in a genuine manner.

I recommend the Conversation with Joseph Beuys for everybody for a refreshing read!

Beuys - felt, fat and honey - becoming an Artist

Joseph Beuys - Homogeneous Infiltration for Piano, 1966

in the permanent collection of The Pompidou Centre, Paris

© the estate of Joseph Beuys

"An object of this kind is to be understood as a stimulus for discussion and should in no way be taken as a product of aesthetics" Joseph Beuys speaking about his Felt Piano

The following recount is from the notebook of Beuys, telling us an important passage, that took place in 1945, that may enlighten the statement above:

"Had it not been for the Tartars I would not be alive today. They were the nomads of the Crimea, in what was then no man's land between the Russian and German fronts, and favoured neither side. I had already struck up a good relationship with them, and often wandered off to sit with them. ..

Their nomadic ways attracted me of course, although by that time their movements had been restricted. Yet it was they who discovered me in the snow after the crash, when the German search parties had given up. I was still unconscious then and only came round completely after twelve days or so, and by then I was back in a German field hospital.

So the memories I have of that time are images that penetrated my consciousness. The last thing I remember was that it was too late to jump, too late for the parachutes to open. .. But I must have shot through the windscreen as it flew back at the same speed as the plane hit the ground and that saved me, though I had bad skull and jaw injuries. Then the tail flipped over and I was completely buried in the snow.

That's how the Tartars found me days later. .. They covered my body in fat to help it regenerate warmth, and wrapped it in felt as an insulator to keep warmth in."

When becoming artist, after the war, Beuys started using these materials - felt, fat as well as honey as raw materials for his art.

Fat Chair, 1964

by Joseph Beuys

"I wished to go completely outside and to make a symbolic start for my enterprise of regenerating

the life of humankind within the body of society

and to prepare a positive future in this context."

Joseph Beuys

Honey Pump in the Workplace

from Documenta 6, Kassel, 1977

"Let's talk of a system that transforms all the

social organisms into a work of art, in which

the entire process of work is included...

something in which the principle of

production and consumption

takes on a form of quality.

It's a Gigantic project. "

Joseph Beuys

Felt Suit, 1970

by Joseph Beuys

"In places like

universities, where

everyone talks too

rationally, it is

necessary for a

kind of enchanter

to appear."

Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys multiples

Honey Is Flowing In All Directions - by Joseph Beuys

Soziale Plastik

7000 Oaks - 7000 Eichen

for Documenta 7 in Kassel, 1982

Beuys also recognized the importance of the environmental issues, a great example being the sculptural project '7000 Eichen - 7000 Oaks' for Documenta 7 in Kassel, 1982.

"Beuys's project 7000 Oaks was begun in 1982 at Documenta 7, the large international art exhibition in Kassel, Germany. His plan called for the planting of seven thousand trees, each paired with a columnar basalt stone approximately four feet high above ground, throughout the greater city of Kassel. With major support from the Dia Art Foundation, the project was carried forward under the auspices of the Free International University (FIU) and took five years to complete, the last tree having been planted at the opening of Documenta 8 in 1987. Beuys intended the Kassel project to be the first stage in an ongoing scheme of tree planting to be extended throughout the world as part of a global mission to effect environmental and social change; locally, the action was a gesture towards urban renewal."

From the Dia Art Foundation

' I think the tree is an element of regeneration

which in itself is a concept of time. '

Joseph Beuys

7000 Oaks - 7000 Eichen - in the process, with Beuys

Cult of the Artist

BEUYS - We are the Revolution

The Hamburger Bahnhof, the third location of Berlin's Nationalgalerie presents Joseph Beuys from 3 October 2008 to 25 January 2009 "Cult of the Artist: BEUYS - We are the Revolution"

from The Hamburger Bahnhof website: "In the second half of the 20th century, the world of art found in Joseph Beuys (1921-1986) a figure whose universal aspirations and ingenious visual imagery lunged out deep into the European history of ideas. No other artist in the 20th century applied his thoughts on the relations between art and society in such a complex way as Joseph Beuys.

Twenty years after the last major exhibition of his work in Germany, and following major exhibitions in Zurich, Paris and London, the exhibition 'BEUYS. We are the Revolution' will give shape to this large expanse of his ideas. For the first time ever the context of his work will be outlined in great detail by way of various documents, writings, films and photographs. The presentation will be grounded in the open work and above all on Beuys himself: Beuys the artist, Beuys the thinker, Beuys the individual."

we are the revolt


I have been working together with my partner David Knight since 2000. We work mainly within the digital realm of new media creating audio-visual installations as well as linear work for large screens. We also sometimes carry out performances.

In 2003 we created the performance 'we are the revolt' in Brussels in Homage to Joseph Beuys, our great inspiration.

TJADER-KNIGHT inc. website, in constant process ..

' La rivoluzione siamo noi '

Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys Filz TV

Beuys photographed by Andy Warhol

Beuys Bien Bien Beuys Shaving Performance

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    • TheInfamous7 profile image


      9 years ago

      A Truly Superb Lens!! 5* and a Blessing!!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Teaching what to a hare? I am starting to feel quite envious of your lenses, if you would like to sell any of them do get in contact. Thanks Si


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