Joseph Beuys, Wirtschaftswerte (Economic Values), 1980. Various implements and foodstuffs from East Germany, metal shelving, a solid beam in plaster, ca. 300 x 400 x 265 cm. Collection S.M.A.K., Gent, Belgium. Photograph: Dirk Pauwels/S.M.A.K. © Joseph Beuys, Wirtschaftswerte, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2014
Born 1921 in Krefeld, Germany
Died 1986 in Düsseldorf, Germany
Joseph Beuys volunteered for the Luftwaffe in 1941 and was eventually stationed on the Crimean Peninsula. His war experiences later formed the basis for a fictional biography that underlay much, though not all, of his art. After World War II he studied monumental sculpture at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Germany, but his work spanned the graphic arts, installation, sculpture, and theory. He became a professor at the Düsseldorf academy and in 1963 organized the Festum Fluxorum Fluxus festival there. Beuys’s work was shown at Documenta 3, 5, 6, and 7 and in the German pavilion of the thirty-seventh Venice Biennial (1979). At the same time he enjoyed his first American retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, which remained the only major retrospective during his lifetime. In 1981 he had a show in East Germany. He was an active member of the Green Party.