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Beuys Soziale Plastik GIF© Lutz Mommartz

Anniversary Program
100 Years of Joseph Beuys

Few German cultural figures of the 20th century were as controversial as the action artist, sculptor, draftsman, art theorist, and professor Joseph Beuys (1921–1986). His work dealt with a new, expanded concept of art that included the political co-creation of society.

We’ve gathered events on Joseph Beuys from our colleagues and partners in the region — and included some 2021 perspectives on the artist’s work.
 

Joseph Beuys Buecher (c) Goethe-Institut Chicago/Irmi Maunu-Kocian

Concert and Conversation| 8. Dec. | In-person in Chicago
Family/Beuys and Everyone

As the 100th anniversary of the birth of Joseph Beuys nears its final days, we present an evening devoted to the question of Beuys and the universal—the “everyone” in Beuys’s famous and endlessly debated claim that “everyone is an artist.” The evening begins and ends with the world premiere of a new work, “Family,” for fixed media and speaker by University of Chicago composer/artist Andrew Stock, in between which will unfold a conversation between artist Theaster GatesDieter Roelstraete, and Mechtild Widrich, moderated by Gray Center Director Seth Brodsky. 

Joseph Beuys would have turned 100 in May 2021. In a video series, we focus on the history of the impact of his ideas and art. Artists from all over the world talk about the reception and reverberation of Beuys in their own thinking and work. We want to avoid heroic narratives and look less at Beuys' legacy than at the diverse appropriations, confrontations, critiques and questions about this legacy.
Reflections on Beuys © Goethe-Institut

#aboutbeuysDC
Reflections on Beuys

On the occasion of Joseph Beuys’ 100th birthday, the Goethe-Institut Washington and the Hirshhorn Museum paired up and challenged nine contemporary artists to reflect on Beuys. In short videos, each artist conveys their relationship to Beuys, his work, and his legacy.​

Social sculpture is an art-theoretical term used to describe art that aims to have a formative effect on society. Societies, actions and processes in which people creatively change conditions and shape them are also referred to in this way. On the basis of an extended concept of art, the German artist Joseph Beuys used these terms to explain his idea of a society-changing art. In explicit contrast to an understanding based on formal aesthetics, the concept of art propagated by Beuys includes those human actions that are aimed at structuring and shaping society. Thus, the concept of art is no longer limited to the materially tangible artifact.

More about Joseph Beuys

Video series
#aboutbeuys

In a video series, we focus on the history of the impact of his ideas and art. Artists from all over the world talk about the reception and reverberation of Beuys in their own thinking and work. We want to avoid heroic narratives and look less at Beuys' legacy than at the diverse appropriations, confrontations, critiques and questions about this legacy.
 

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

Poland & Czech Republic
Understanding Beuys

The expanded concept of art developed by Joseph Beuys is a benchmark of international cultural work for the work of the Goethe-Instituts worldwide and an inspiration to contribute to the understanding of the artist's political, social and ecological content and issues in the anniversary year via the aesthetic framework of a virtual exhibition.

Slowakia
Beuys will be Beuys

Joseph Beuys is one of the most influential and controversial artists of the 20th century. In 2021, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth. Who was Beuys, and who is he today?

Tokyo
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 devoting its programming to the artist. What is the significance of Beuys’ work and agenda today?

Beuys 2021 © Beuys 2021

Germany
Beuys 2021

The anniversary program beuys2021 is a project of the Ministry of Culture and Science of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in collaboration with the Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf.

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