Joseph Beuys

Nationality: German

Birth Year: 1921

Death Year: 1986

Place of Birth: Krefeld, Germany

Place of Death: Düsseldorf, Germany

Specialities: Contemporary Art

Biography

Joseph Beuys (1921-1986)
Date of Birth: May 12, 1921
Date of Death: January 21, 1986
Place of Birth: Krefeld, Germany
Occupation: Sculptor, Installation Art
Movement: Conceptual Art, Fluxus
Education: Kunstakademie Dusseldorf
Quotes
“Every human being is an artist, a freedom being, called to participate in transforming and reshaping the conditions, thinking, and structures that shape and inform our lives.”
“In places like universities, where everyone talks too rationally, it is necessary for a kind of enchanter to appear.”
“To be a teacher is my greatest work of art. The rest is the waste product, a demonstration.”
Famous Artworks
“Woman/Animal Skull,” 1957
“How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare,”1965
Joseph Beuys was a German artist and teacher, who taught art theory and worked in graphic art, and was a performance artist. A well-known teacher, he said that his greatest contribution to art was his teaching of it. 
Early Life
Joseph Beuys was born in the town of Krefeld in 1921. He was the son of a fertilizer dealer, Joseph Jacob Beuys, and Johanna Maria Margarete. They moved a few months after his birth to the nearby town of Kleve. The family was well off, and Joseph was sent to school at the Staatliche Gymnasium in town. He received piano and cello lessons, and his talent for drawing was noticed early in school. He was in the habit of visiting the studio of the artist Achilles Moortgat who lived in Kleve. Moortgat introduced him to the works of a number of artists, including Constantin Meunier and George Minne. 
Beuys had chosen to become a sculptor during his student-days. When he was 15, it is recorded that he joined the Hitler Youth. He was also with a circus for a year in 1939.
The Air Force Period
Beuys finished school in 1941, and immediately volunteered to join the German Air Force. He was trained as a radio operator, and stationed in Crimea in 1942. He continued drawing and sketching through his years in the Luftwaffe. His plane was shot down in 1944. According to him, he was rescued by Tartar tribesmen who nursed him back to health by covering his wounds in fat and wrapping him in animal felt, though this version of events may have been fabricated by him. 
After recovering from his wounds, he went back into action as a paratrooper. He was captured by British forces and became a prisoner of war. He was released a few months later and returned to his parents’ home in Kleve. 
Education and Beginnings in Art
Beuys joined the Kunstakademie in Dusseldorf in 1946, studying monumental sculpture, first under Joseph Enseling, and then, in 1947, joined the class taught by Ewald Mataré. He was made master student by Mataré in 1951, and began helping his teacher in the creation of projects. He finished his studies in 1953. He made a small living by doing minor projects for clients. He made many thousands of drawings and, infrequently, sculptures, through the 1950s. 
Wartime experiences had profoundly impacted Beuys, and he suffered serious depression in 1956. However, he recovered and began participating in exhibitions in 1958. He married Eva Wurmbach in 1959, and they had two children, Wenzel and Jessyka. 
The Mature Years
Beuys and his family moved to Düsseldorf in 1961, as he had been appointed to teach monumental sculpture at the Kunstakademie there. He had been dabbling in performance art at this time, and in 1964, performed at the Technical College in Aachen. It turned out to be a controversial performance, with a student attacking him. He had also begun fictionalizing parts of his life, a trait that was to enter his art and personal life. 
Beuys began making a breakthrough in the art world with a performance of “How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare” in 1965 in Dusseldorf. Another breakthrough came with his exhibition at the Cologne Art Fair in 1969.
Beuys was deeply interested in teaching, and had a number of novel ideas that he put into action. He refused to impose entrance exams and qualifications for participating in his classes — due to this and a number of other reasons, he was dismissed from his teaching post in 1972. This led to a furor, with a large body of students coming out in his defense. He initiated a legal process against the university, and in 1980, was finally allowed to rejoin as professor.
The Later Years, Death, and Legacy
Beuys visited the United States in 1974 where he was exhibiting and lecturing. He also exhibited in 1976 at the Venice Biennale, where he installed his work, “Straßenbahnhaltestelle/ Tram Stop/ Fermata del Tram.” The only retrospective of his to be held in his own lifetime was in 1979, at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
Beuys died of a heart failure in 1986 in Dusseldorf. 
The work “7000 Oaks,” in which Beuys began planting oaks in 1982, continued to be developed after his death a few years later, with people adding to the oak grove, and in a sense, building upon his work.
Timeline
1921 - Born in the Krefeld, Germany
1936 - Joins the Hitler Youth
1941 - Graduates from school
1941 - Begins training in the German Air Force
1944 - Beuys’ plane shot down in Crimea
1946 - Enrolls at the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf
1953 - Graduates from the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf
1959 - Marries Eva Wurmbach
1961 - Appointed professor at theKunstakademie Dusseldorf
1979 - Retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum, New York
1986 - Dies of heart failure in Dusseldorf
Exhibitions
1953 - First solo exhibition in Kranenberg, Germany
1961 - Solo exhibition at the Städtisches Museum Haus Koekkoek, Kleve, Germany
1965 - Performance of “How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare,” Dusseldorf, Germany
1969 - Participates in the Cologne Art Fair, Germany
1979 - Retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum, New York
Museums/Collections
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain
National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland
Fotomuseum, Winterthur, Switzerland
Kunstmuseum, Basel, Switzerland
Kunstmuseum, Bonn, Germany
Lenbach House, Munich
Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Trento, Italy
Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Musuem Sztuki, Lodz, Poland
Books/Publications
“Joseph Beuys: Life and Works” by Adriani, Gotz, Winfried Konnertz, and Karin Thomas
“The Essential Joseph Beuys” by Alain Borer
“Beuys: Die Biographie” by Hans-Peter Riegel
 

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ART PRICES

LOT SOLD (1988 - 2010)

2158

MAX PRICE

$650,067

AVG PRICE

$113,825

TOTAL SALES (1988 - 2010)

$9,561,356

 Honey is flowing by Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys

Honey is flowing

Lyon & Turnbull, Edinburgh

August 13, 2015

 USD

 Noiseless blackboard eraser by Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys

Noiseless blackboard eraser

Christie's, New York

July 28, 2015

$2,500  USD

 Genommene Kurven by Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys

Genommene Kurven

Auctionata, Berlin

July 22, 2015

 USD

 Honey is Flowing by Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys

Honey is Flowing

Auctionata, Berlin

July 22, 2015

 USD

 Senza titolo, (Free International University) by Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys

Senza titolo, (Free International University)

Galleria Pananti, Florence

July 16, 2015

$1,877  USD

 Woodcuts by Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys

Woodcuts

Christie's, New York

July 14, 2015

 USD

 So Kann die Parteiendiktatur berwunden Werde by Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys

So Kann die Parteiendiktatur berwunden Werde

Tiroche, Hertzelia Pituch

July 4, 2015

$322  USD

 Untitled by Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys

Untitled

Sotheby's, London

July 2, 2015

 USD

 Enterprise, 18.11.72, 18:5:16 Uhr by Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys

Enterprise, 18.11.72, 18:5:16 Uhr

Sotheby's, London

July 2, 2015

$25,366  USD

News

Gerhard Richter Leads Kunstkompass Ranking for Top 100 International Artists

By BLOUIN ARTINFO | March 25, 2015

BERLIN - Kunstkompass (German for „Art Compass“) a ranking created by art specialist and journalist Willi Bongard in 1970 and issued every spring, is one of the most anticipated publications in...

A Belter Biennial: Liverpool 2014 Opens to the Public

By Ashitha Nagesh | July 5, 2014

Contemporary art has once again taken over the Scouse city for the summer: the eighth edition of the Liverpool Biennial opened today, July 5.Since the biennial’s first edition in 2000, Liverpool...

Last Chance to See Matthias Arndt's Melbourne Migration Show

By BLOUIN ARTINFO Australia | December 14, 2012

There is just one day left to view international art dealer Matthias Arndt’s “MIGRATION” exhibition in Melbourne, and it is a show every art collector will want to see. Since the 30th of October,...

Fluxus Gets an Historic Homage at a French Museum, But Remains an Enigma Still

By Céline Piettre,ARTINFO France | November 5, 2012

Let’s get this straight: Fluxus is not an artistic movement, or a school. It’s a state of mind and an art of living that “makes life more interesting than art,” to quote Robert Filliou’s famous...

Inside the Art Bunker of German Tastemakers Christian and Karen Boros

By Alexander Forbes,Art+Auction | September 26, 2012

It’s a quarter past nine in the evening when Christian Boros slides open the large wooden door that separates the penthouse he shares with his wife, Karen, and 8-year-old son, Anton, from the...

Events

Joseph Beuys: Multiples

Mar 13 - Apr 18, 2015

Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York

The Secret Block For a Secret Person in Ireland

Dec 17, 2013 - Apr 21, 2014

Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin

Joseph Beuys

Mar 5 - Jun 30, 2014

Fundación Proa, Buenos Aires

Social Plastics: Beuys in China

Apr 6 - May 19, 2013

CAFA Art Museum, Beijing

Joseph Beuys: The Multiples

Sep 19, 2009 - Jun 1, 2010

LACMA, Los Angeles

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