Beuys, Joseph

Beuys, Joseph

biographical name

(born May 12, 1921, Krefeld, Ger.—died Jan. 23, 1986, Düsseldorf, W.Ger.) German avant-garde sculptor and performance artist. He served in the German air force in World War II and later studied art in Düsseldorf (1947–51); in 1961 he was appointed professor of sculpture at its art academy. In the 1960s he worked with the international group Fluxus, whose emphasis was not on what an artist makes but on his or her personality, actions, and opinions. Beuys's most famous and controversial performance was How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare (1965), in which he walked around an art gallery with his face covered in honey and gold leaf, talking to a dead hare about human and animal consciousness. He also became known for sculptural works that utilized fat and layers of felt. He succeeded in creating a popular personal mythology and was one of the most influential artists and teachers of the later 20th century.

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