Joseph Beuys

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Beuys, Joseph

(yō`zĕf bois), 1921–86, German artist, b. Krefeld; one of the most influential of postmodern artists. Drafted into the Luftwaffe during World War II, he was wounded several times and in 1943 was shot down over Crimea. Nearly frozen, he was found by Tatar nomads who saved his life by wrapping him in felt and fur—materials that he later often used in his work and that assumed iconic, life-affirming stature in it. He studied (1947–51) and later taught at the State Art Academy in Düsseldorf, where he was (1961–72) professor of sculpture. A member of the neo-DadaDada
or Dadaism
, international nihilistic movement among European artists and writers that lasted from 1916 to 1922. Born of the widespread disillusionment engendered by World War I, it originated in Zürich with a 1916 party at the Cabaret Voltaire and the
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 group Fluxus during the early 1960s, Beuys pioneered certain ritualized latter-day happeningshappening,
an artistic event of a theatrical nature, but usually improvised spontaneously without the framework of a plot. The term originated with the creation and performance in 1959 of Allan Kaprow's "18 Happenings in 6 Parts.
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 that he called Actions; they were among the first contemporary examples of performance artperformance art,
multimedia art form originating in the 1970s in which performance is the dominant mode of expression. Perfomance art may incorporate such elements as instrumental or electronic music, song, dance, television, film, sculpture, spoken dialogue, and storytelling.
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. Later in the 1960s he and his art turned toward left-wing politics; he was a founder (1967) of the German Students party and a Green party activist in the 1970s.

With his room-filling temporary constructions, Beuys also pioneered the movement that led to installation art. In his installations and other sculptural work Beuys included such elements as food, dead animals, wire, wood, cloth, automobiles, musical instruments, scraps of various materials, and many other likely and unlikely objects. In these unconventional, often obsessional, and sometimes disturbing pieces and in his many drawings and posters, Beuys rejected abstract art in favor of an aesthetic that relied heavily on his own experience and that elevated subject matter to utmost importance. Thematically, he was apt to touch on such issues as the environment, politics, and humanity's relationship with nature. Famous in the international art world by the 1970s, Beuys had an important impact on an emerging group of avant-garde artists, first in Europe and later in the United States.

Bibliography

See J. F. Moffitt, Occultism in Avant-Garde Art: The Case of Joseph Beuys (1988); H. Stackelhaus, Joseph Beuys (1991); A. Temkin and B. Rose, Thinking Is Form: The Drawings of Joseph Beuys (1992).

References in periodicals archive ?
Brock Vostell," curated by Peter Weibel with Eckhart Gillen, takes as its starting point several collective actions in which Joseph Beuys, Bazon Brock, and Wolf Voste1.
Refiguring the Spiritual: Beuys, Barney, Turrell, Goldsworthy
Joseph Beuys and the Celtic wor(1)d; a language of healing.
A protean creator of sculptures, installations, drawings, prints and multiples, Joseph Beuys often insisted that his greatest work of art was his teaching.
The first permit is for the Pierre Punted, which will build a hydroelectric plant with a capacity of 15 megawatts on the Micro Rio in the town of Mueller de los Beuys, on the Caribbean coast.
Joseph Beuys is one of the most legendary figures of twentieth century art; his work and ideas continue to impact artists today.
The tour will also include works by Diane Arbus, Joseph Beuys, Alex Katz, Anselm Kiefer, Jeff Koons, Jannis Kounellis, Sol LeWitt, Gerhard Richter, Bill Viola, Lawrence Weiner and Francesca Woodman.
WILLOUGHBY SHARP was in town recently, where he learned that the Ringling Museum had hosted a Joseph Beuys exhibition in 1999.
People can watch an intimate black and white home movie of Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and their triplets, a rare silent video of a Joseph Beuys performance in Basel and a lecture by Christo at Tate Gallery introduced by Sir Nicholas Serota.
The students worked with artist Cath Keay to examine the work of influential German artist Joseph Beuys (1921 - 1986) who believed that art had the power to shape a better society.
Loaded metaphors abounded, summoning allusions to visual artists Joseph Beuys and Joseph Cornell--fanned-open books lined a wall, a raven stalked the stage, dozens of shoes carpeted the floor, shards of glass jutted upward from a tabletop.