Quick access:

Go directly to content (Alt 1) Go directly to first-level navigation (Alt 2)

Social Sculptures

From April to October 2021 the Goethe-Institut Cyprus is celebrating Beuys' 100th birthday with an event series curated by Marina Christodoulidou, consisting of a workshop for artists, an exhibition, film screenings and a discussion with Rhea Thönges-Stringaris, art historian and friend of Beuys.

Banner Social Sculptures BEUYS100

Joseph Beuys (12 May 1921 – 23 January 1986) is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential artists of the second half of the 20th century. He was a German Fluxus, happening, and performance artist as well as a painter, sculptor, installation artist, graphic artist, art theorist, and pedagogue. His extensive work is grounded in concepts of humanism, social philosophy and anthroposophy; it culminates in his "extended definition of art" and the idea of social sculpture as a Gesamtkunstwerk, for which he claimed a creative, participatory role in shaping society and politics. His career was characterized by open public debates on a very wide range of subjects including political, environmental, social and long-term cultural trends.



The Social Sculptures event series kicked off with a workshop for local artists, which started in April and continued in September 2021. The impactful term social sculpture, which Beuys developed in the early 1970s, is centred on the belief that art could include the entire process of living – thoughts, actions, conversation, and objects – and could be enacted collectively by a wide range of people, beyond artists.

Social Sculptures: 10-day workshop for artists


The exhibition features the practices of artists Spyros Anastasiou, Mehveş Beyidoğlu, Stella N. Christou, Eirene Constantinou, Rafaella Constantinou, Marietta Mavrokordatou, Andreas Papamichael, Simone Philippou, Zoe Polycarpou, Korallia Stergides and Nicolina Stylianou. Their artistic approaches employ different media, comprising of sound, sculpture, engraving, photography, installation, performance, some of which are participatory, and so forth. Yet they share a departure from the concept of ‘artwork’, unveiling within and drifting throughout hybrid forms and processes of art-making.

The works and actions created for the exhibition present social sculpture in its diversity and plurality, as acted and mediated through the participants' encounter and exchange. Sculpture is explored as a metaphor of movement, a metaphor we live by as society. Metaphor in its etymological sense to “transfer”, or “carry across”, seems to rearticulate the relationship between plurality and discursive practices through which the idea of movement occurs.  Social Sculptures’ movement carries across compositions of reality, not because it reflects the aim or will of an individual and a singular artistic act, but because it derives from collaborative praxis, which is enacted and restaged. By sharing ways to get closer to the unceasingly forming and reforming of social compositions we are part of, the featuring artists grasp the notions of ‘social’ and ‘sculpture’ in their plasticity and resilience.

Social Sculptures: Exhibition

Beuys in Film

Audiences will have the opportunity to get to know Beuys and his work through a selection of films.

More information on the screening programme and the films

A black&white photo. From left to right Rudolf Bahro, Joseph Beuys and Rhea Thönges-Stringaris are seated on a stage. In the background you can see the rear part of a grand piano. © Archiv Rhea Thönges-Stringaris

Art historian Rhea Thönges-Stringaris on Joseph Beuys

Social sculpture is the groundwork of an ongoing research that adapts to the political, social, and environmental situation of a given time and place. In between chaos and structure, there is movement; this movement was mediated by Beuys as the theory of sculpture, mentions Rhea Thönges-Stringaris in a recent discussion with curator Marina Christodoulidou. Movement in sculpture was shaped by social compositions and his belief that everyone is an artist and can react and move creatively. Reflecting on the social sculpture term, Thönges-Stringaris suggests: artists and creatives carry means to observe and respond to situations, and can practise and do it well, but the awareness of what surrounds us, is necessary to be present within ourselves and outside of our bodies.

Video series: #aboutbeuys

International artists deal with the heritage of Joseph Beuys.

Screenshot  © Armin Mühsam

Armin Mühsam

“Marcel Duchamp's silence is overrated”. Beuys wrote this sentence on a sheet of paper during a live television broadcast in 1964. The action was part of a Fluxus performance and referred to the Fluxus artists' debate on ''Duchamp's concept of art''. In his video, Armin Mühsam contrasts the legacy of the two artists.

More about Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys (left, with felt hat) at the 1980 Green Party convention in Dortmund. Photo (detail): © picture-alliance / Sven Simon

Joseph Beuys
“Beuys wanted democracy to be effective”

Joseph Beuys’ art was often political, as was the artist himself. What exactly was his stance though? Beuys co-founded the Green Party, but also met up with former Nazi comrades. Above all, he was a pragmatist, according to Bettina Paust, head of the city of Wuppertal’s cultural office and author of a new handbook on Beuys’ work.

7000 Oaks – City Forestation Instead of City Administration: Dennhäuser Strasse, a social sculpture by Joseph Beuys, presented in 1982 at the documenta 7 in Kassel Photo (detail): Baummapper (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Joseph Beuys and the Will to Act
What if chopping down a tree were tantamount to murder?

Joseph Beuys was a multi-faceted artist whose ideas still have an impact today. We talked to a Beuys expert, Eugen Blume, about the artist’s interventions to promote the environmental movement and show us humans that every one of us can take action. 

Never without a hat: Joseph Beuys at the documenta 7 in Kassel, 1982. Photo (detail): © picture-alliance / akg-images / Niklaus Stauss

Joseph Beuys
Fat, felt and legends

In May 2021, Germany is celebrating a special art centenary on what would have been legendary artist Joseph Beuys’ 100th birthday. We look at what made the provocative lateral thinker tick.

Joseph Beuys pushed boundaries – as here at a 1972 protest against his own art academy – and influenced the generations of artists that followed. Photo (detail): © picture alliance/dpa/Bernd Müller

The art of Joseph Beuys
Shaping society like a sculpture

Joseph Beuys was a draftsman, sculptor, performance and installation artist, teacher, politician, and activist – and one of the most important artists of the 20th century. His art continues to have an impact today.

Goethe-Institut projects worldwide

Beuys will be Beuys © Eugen Korda

Beuys will be Beuys

Joseph Beuys is a special chapter in art history, and in 2021 we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of the most influential and controversial artists of the 20th century. Who was and who is Beuys today?

The exhibition “Beuys verstehen” (“Understanding Beuys”) will be presented by the Goethe-Institutes of Warsaw and Prague. Illustration (detail): © ZAUBAR/Imago

Polen und Tschechien
Beuys verstehen

Der von Joseph Beuys entwickelte erweiterte Kunstbegriff ist für die Arbeit der Goethe-Institute weltweit ein Maßstab der internationalen Kulturarbeit und eine Inspiration, über den ästhetischen Rahmen einer virtuellen Ausstellung zum Verständnis von politischen, sozialen und ökologischen Inhalten und Fragestellungen des Künstlers im Jubiläumsjahr beizutragen.

Joseph Beuys © Courtesy Video Data Bank of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

100 Years of Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys would have turned 100 in 2021. In celebration, we’ve gathered events on Beuys from our colleagues and partners in the region — and included some 2021 perspectives on the artist’s work.

100 Years Joseph Beuys © Mimmo Jodice and the CODA Museum, CC BY 3.0, Detail and Sepia

100 Years Joseph Beuys

On the occasion of the 100th birthday and 35th anniversary of the death of Joseph Beuys, the Goethe-Institut Tokyo is exploring the question in events and projects: What is the significance of the artist's work and agenda today?