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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: Campaign 7000 oaks. documenta 7 (1982) © documenta archiv /Photo: Dieter Schwerdtle / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021 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.

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 about Joseph Beuys

Marina Christodoulidou spoke with Greece and Germany-based art historian Rhea Thönges-Stringaris, who not only studied Beuys' work over many years, but was also in an active intellectual exchange and friendly contact.



The Social Sculptures event series begins with a ten-day workshop facilitated by cultural practitioners and artists whose practices are inspired by and draw from Joseph Beuys' social-sculpture projects. The workshop will run from 19 to 29 April 2021 and will be focusing on the concept of social sculpture, which Beuys developed in the early 1970s. His impactful term 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 in September and October 2021 consists of artworks developed within the framework of the workshop.

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 will be announced soon.

Video series: #aboutbeuys

International artists deal with the heritage of Joseph Beuys.

Screenshot  © Lê Giang

Lê Giang

The Vietnamese artist Lê Giang sees in Beuys' work an inspiration for life after the pandemic and an urgent reminder to change ourselves to make the world a better place.

Screenshot  © Asbestos


The Irish street artist Asbestos first saw Beuys' black panels in Dublin. Since then, he has been fascinated by the idea of taking ordinary materials from the city and creating works of art.

Screenshot  © Tisna Sanjaya

Tisna Sanjaya

“Anyone who doesn’t want to think will be thrown out“ is a famous phrase by Beuys. The works of the Indonesian artist Tisna Sanjaya are directed, especially in the pandemic, to those who do not think along

Screenshot  © Parvathi Nayar

Parvathi Nayar

Entropy is a measure of the disorder that a system reveals. Inspired by Beuys' installation Plight, the Indian artist Parvathi Nayar deals with the physical term and the material felt. The artwork, a felt mask is a homage to the plight of our time.

Screenshot  © Fondacion Klemm

Fondacion Klemm

The Czech-Argentine artist Federico Klemm (1942-2002) was an admirer of Beuys. Art critic Julio Sánchez and artist Pablo Marchetti talk about Klemm and his fascination with Beuys and felt suits.

Screenshot  © Viktória Monhor

Viktória Monhor

A tree and a poster that says it: A very important message that is of interest to everyone. Hungarian artist Viktória Monhor shows that less is more.

Screenshot  © Yacine Tilala

Yacine Tilala

The American artist with Senegalese and Mauritanian roots Yacine Tilala takes inspiration from a Joseph Beuys interview in her video and creates her own work of art. The body is at the centre of it.

Screenshot  © Ance Vilnite

Ance Vilnite

In Beuys' eyes, the community itself is the material and every individual is an artist. In her video, Latvian artist Ance Vilnite refers to the concept of social sculpture and sees in every action a chance to shape it. 

Screenshot  © Kristof Kintera

Kristof Kintera

There can be no art without Beuys – says Czech artist Kristof Kintera, describing Beuys as an icon and mystic whose artistic perspective can lead us out of a poorly functioning society.

Screenshot  © Marzia Farhana

Marzia Farhana

To change society, it is important to ensure free education, free information and free participation. The artist Marzia Farhana from Bangladesh tells how she implements Joseph Beuys' Expanded Concept of Art in her projects.

Screenshot  © Luchezar Boyadjiev

Luchezar Boyadjiev

How can a personal or a collective trauma be overcome? The Bulgarian artist Luchezar Boyadjiev explains how his work seeks to heal society through reconciliation.

Screenshot  © Robert Svarc

Robert Svarc

Beuys is still alive and his work is a preparation for the complex, irritating 21st century - says the Slovak artist Robert Svarc and presents his thoughts on Beuys’ legacy.

Screenshot  © Susanne Kriemann

Susanne Kriemann

Is a museum allowed to change the meaning of a deceased artist’s works? German artist Susanne Kriemann tells how an exhibition by Beuys shaped her understanding of art.

Screenshot  © Zaki Al-Maboren

Zaki Al-Maboren

Have you ever been to Kassel? The German-Sudanese artist Zaki Al-Maboren reflects on Beuys’ artwork „7,000 Oaks“, which was part of the art exhibition documenta 7.

Screenshot  © Kalas Liebfried

Kalas Liebfried

Compared to other post-war artists, Beuys is still relevant. The Bulgarian artist Kalas Liebfried deals with Beuys’ artistic legacy in his works.

More about Joseph Beuys

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?