From 1945 to 1985, Joseph Beuys produced a body of work which was the subject of much critical discussion during his own lifetime. Arranged chronologically, this overview draws on selected works produced during this 40-year period and includes drawings and watercolours, sculptures and objects, environments and performances. Alain Borer takes in nature and people, material and form, chaos and reason and addresses the transformation of his work from early imaginary worlds into ever more fluent and unlimited artistic forms.
Subject to passionate controversy during his lifetime, the work of Joseph Beuys is now considered one of the most significant and influential contributions to twentieth-century fine arts. This book provides a survey of Beuys’s oeuvre, which he viewed as part of a larger, philosophically based practice emphasising direct democracy, free access to education and the restructuring of society to meet ecological requirements. A total of 152 works from Beuys’s many fields of activity – drawings and watercolours, prints and multiples, sculpture and objects, spaces and actions – are arranged in chronological order, demonstrating the artist’s formal versatility, creative richness and conceptual depth. The peculiar poetry of the materials Beuys used – felt, grease, honey, wax, copper and sulfur – emerges along with the gentle melancholy suffusing the work of this sensitive agent provocateur. Alain Borer analyses Beuys’s motivation with special reference to the artist’s written and spoken statements. The book is an informed introduction to the artistic work and conceptual world of Joseph Beuys, for anyone interested in art.