A Path from Thought to Action
Joseph Beuys on view at Belvedere 21
Joseph Heinrich Beuys (1921-1986) was a German action artist, sculptor, medalist, draftsman, art theorist, and professor at the Düsseldorf Art Academy.
This year Joseph Beuys would have turned 100 years old. Belvedere 21 is taking this opportunity to present an extensive exhibition of his work, which at the same time highlights the artist’s relationship to Vienna. Beuys was and is an exceptional artist – groundbreaking for contemporary art, he is still considered one of the prime action artists of the 20th century.
Joseph Beuys was more than an artist. He exploded the concept of art of his time but viewed art first and foremost as work on society. His art was interdisciplinary: art is supposed to have an effect on a social, political, spiritual and scientific level. And it should do so for every single person in our society, because “every person is an artist,” was his credo.
In addition to major works by the artist, Belvedere 21 is showing works that reveal his relationship to Vienna. For Joseph Beuys, Vienna was interesting because of its geographical location at the time of the Iron Curtain and the neutrality of Austria. For the performance “EURASIENSTAB 82 min fluxorum organum” in the Galerie nächst St. Stephan, the artist appeared with a type of copper shepherd’s crook, through which spiritual power was to be passed on and West and East were to be united.
Much better known is the action “7000 Oaks – City Forestation Instead of City Administration,” which Beuys conceived for documenta 7. As a result, citizens of Kassel planted trees in their city. The participatory project explains the “expanded concept of art” coined by Beuys: art merges with environmental awareness, co-design and urban planning. “With his work, Joseph Beuys wanted to convey how a path could lead from thoughts to actions,” says curator Harald Krejci. In honor of Joseph Beuys, a English oak was planted in the sculpture garden of Belvedere 21 as a small reenactment during the opening press conference.