JOSEPH BEUYS

press release

JOSEPH BEUYS. PARALLEL PROCESSES

September 11, 2010 – January 16, 2011


By effecting an inextricable unity of artistic thinking and action, Joseph Beuys (1921-1986) became one of the most charismatic creative personalities of the 20th century. His multifaceted oeuvre — which continues to exert an influence on contemporary artistic production — is still featured and discussed under the most diverse aspects. Through ten major installations and large-scale sculptural works, the exhibition “Joseph Beuys. Parallel Processes” (Sept 11, 2010 – Sept 16, 2011) at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen am Grabbeplatz in Düsseldorf examines a variety of themes and clarifies Beuys’s “expanded conception of art.” Political and artistic utopias are fused now into “social sculpture” in order to provide new perspectives onto society. During the exhibition, well-known artists will discuss their views of Beuys at the Schmela Haus.

Through his activities, Joseph Beuys expanded our concept of the work of art: he believed in the power of art to change people, and he imagined both social and artistic utopias. Manifesting itself progressively has been his worldwide influence, one that remains detectable even in the most recent art production. Among the altogether circa 300 works on view at the Kunstsammlung am Grabbeplatz and at the Schmela Haus are masterworks such as “zeige deine Wunde (Show your Wound)”; 1974/75), “The pack (das Rudel)” (1969), and “Fond IV/4”(1970/71).

A number of installations, on loan from major museums and private collections, are leaving their permanent locations for the Düsseldorf exhibition the first time since the death of the artist. Shown in Europe now for the first time is the large-scale installation  Stripes from the house of the shaman 1964-72” (1980). Also featured is a comprehensive selection of drawings, objects, plastic images, and relics from Beuys’s actions, all of which establish interrelationships between art and life in singular ways.   

Coming together in “Parallel Processes” are sculptural and pictorial aspects, theoretical reflections, and art actions, along with this artist’s idiosyncratic transformations of working materials and objects, to form an extraordinary portrait of Joseph Beuys’s unique lifework. Invested with a new contemporaneity and urgency are both the sculptural qualities of his art and its performative potential. Experienced with great immediacy throughout nearly 3000 ft.² of exhibition space is the complex network structure which joins Beuys’s artistic oeuvre into a coherent totality.

A comprehensive catalog (ca. 432 pages) with color illustrations of all exhibited works guides the reader through the presentation’s various “parallel processes.” There are essays by Marion Ackermann, Gottfried Boehm, Wilfried Kuehn, Isabelle Malz, Maja Naef, and Johannes Stüttgen. Sharing her views in an interview is internationally recognized action artist Marina Abramović. In addition, a special city map identifies the locations in Düsseldorf which were invested with a special significance during the life of this professor at the local art academy. Guided tours to these sites will also be available.

This exhibition forms part of the program of the Quadriennale 2010, organized by the regional capital of Düsseldorf. A scholarly collaboration between the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen and Friedrich-Schiller Universität in Jena has received substantial support from the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). Under preparation since 2009 by a team of young researchers and commencing this coming January is a symposium on Beuys. The setting will be the former Galerie Schmela, recently acquired by the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia – a venue where Joseph Beuys made art history with his exhibitions and actions during the 1970s and 1980s. The program draws upon the participants’ catalog texts on the individual works and on the thematic areas which preoccupied Beuys. Exploring a range of possibilities for presenting Beuys’s works during the run-up to the exhibition was the successful lecture series BEUYS AUSSTELLEN? (Exhibiting Beuys?; Nov 12, 2009 – June 24, 2010), organized by the Kunstsammlung and developed in collaboration with Prof. Wilfried Kuehn and the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe.

Exhibition curators: Marion Ackermann, Isabelle Malz

The exhibition is supported by the exclusive sponsor HSBC Trinkaus & Burkhardt AG and by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research. Media partner is Verlagsgruppe Handelsblatt GmbH.