Joseph Bueys

Essay by pippymazHigh School, 12th grade September 2004

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"Art is life, life is art, Joseph Beuys proclaimed" (Stachelhaus, 1991; 1). The expanded concept of art led to what Joseph Beuys called Social Art, which was an entire new category of art, which set against the traditional muse. Through his endless activities as a draftsman, sculptor, teacher, performer, and politician, he radically challenged prevailing ideas about art, life and nature at the end of the twentieth century. Beuys devoted immense mental and physical energy to his work. Beuys carried out seventy Actions, fifty installations, and also 130 solo exhibitions. (Stachelhaus, 1991; 1) The means of his work were those of his scientific view. He used energy-rich materials for his artistic ideas. The materials used to make the objects were often wilfully confounding and offensive. Beuys had a compelling personality, and he demonstrated the creative potential of all humankind. He directed an international crusade on political thought and art practice from 1960s until his death in 1986.

(Weintraub, 1996; 178)

Joseph Beuys collection of artwork includes drawings, paintings, sculptures, political activities, and performances called "actions". In 1965 Beuys enacted an action where he smeared gold leaf and honey on his skin, and cradled a dead hare in his arms. He then toured an art gallery talking to the hare about everything, which was to be seen. (Weintraub, 1996; 178) "Beuys expanded art's conventional definitions to incorporate the goals and the means of politics". (Weintraub, 1996; 178)

Beuys was involved in the Fluxus movement between 1962 and 1965, where he participated in many concerts and events. Fluxus was international, and was against elitism. It was a great importance to Beuys because he started dealing with a group of people who were devoted to breaking through the boundaries between art and life. (Tisdall, 1979; 84) Fluxus was launched in 1952 at Black...