Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys is recognised as one of the most influential artists of the postwar period. His extensive body of work is underpinned by concepts of social philosophy, humanism and anthroposophy and encompasses Fluxus, happenings, performances, sculptures, installations, drawings and prints. Beuys’ multifaceted career also included lectures, activism, and even a campaign for elected office, and was directed at an “expanded concept of art”. He suggested that “art” might not ultimately constitute a specialized profession but, rather, a heightened humanitarian attitude, or way of conducting one’s life, in every realm of daily activity. In this regard, his work signals a new era in which art becomes increasingly engaged with political activism and social commentary. Several of Joseph Beuys’ most famous artworks incorporate animal fat and felt, two common materials – one organic, the other fabricated. They constituted recurring motifs suggesting that art, common materials, and anyone’s “everyday life” were essentially inseparable.

German, 1921–1986

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