Joseph Beuys – teaching through the activity and interaction

Joseph Beuys was born in 1921 in Krefeld, Germany, and spend his life in the countryside. As a child shaped by Nazi ideology, was interested in plants and animals, which later on had influence in his work and ideology. In 1942 took part during the invasion of southern Russia as a German soldier. After II World War Beuys decided to start studies at Dusseldorf Academy of Art, where he has been working and living with students and professors on the ruins of occupied city. ‘Beuys appears to have been searching, during this time, for an artistic vocabulary to express the trauma of the war experience and its aftermath.’1 Strong influence of II World War caused his work lead to the teachings of the influential mystic Rudolf Steiner, founder of the international Anthroposophy movement. His oeuvre includes drawings, sculptures related to energy transference through natural processes such as birth, conversely and decay. Joseph Beuys was saying that his greatest work of art is to be a teacher, which the role has kept over 20 years. He was teaching through the activity and interaction, spreading ideas about role of art in society to a wide range of audience. In that case, Beuys had big influence on contemporary art and society, in the same time strongly politically engaged.

His ant bureaucratic pedagogy characterized controversy through the action, which occurs most of time during his lectures. It is in 1960s, when Beuys engaged his student to participate in art-political movements to touch the issue of society with his famous slogan is “society sculpture”. His controversial work inconvenienced him problems with school’s administration. He was seemed to be restricted in terms of selecting the students, with whom he was strongly connected as the one unit. The drawing Democracy is Merry (1973) presents his student and himself being escorted from the shool after a sit-in protesting the school’s admission policy.

joseph beuys 2

Il.Democracy is Merry (1973) presents his students and himself being escorted from the shool after a sit-in protesting the school’s admission policy.

-1- Antliff A., Joseph Beuys, Phaidon, 2014, p.7

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Joseph Beuys – teaching through the activity and interaction

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