The Essential Joseph Beuys

Alain Borer

Celebrates the forty-year oeuvre of one of the most important and influential visual artists of the postwar era.

Subject to passionate controversy during his lifetime, the work of Joseph Beuys is now considered one of the most significant and influential contributions to twentieth-century fine arts.

The Essential Joseph Beuys locates the artist’s oeuvre as he saw it: part of a larger, philosophically based practice emphasizing direct democracy, free access to education, and the restructuring of society to meet ecological requirements. A total of 152 works from Beuys’s many fields of activity—drawings and watercolors, prints and multiples, sculptures and objects, spaces and happenings—arranged in chronological order demonstrate the artist’s formal versatility, creative richness, and conceptual depth. The peculiar poetry of the materials Beuys used—felt, grease, honey, wax, copper, and sulfur—emerges along with the gentle melancholy that suffuses the work. Alain Borer analyzes the world of Beuys’s thoughts and imagination with special reference to the artist’s written and spoken statements.

This survey is an essential introduction to the work and conceptual world of Joseph Beuys that will appeal to anyone interested in twentieth-century art.


Alain Borer

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Alain Borer is a French poet and writer. He has been a professor at the L'École supérieure des beaux-arts de Tours since 1979, and a visiting professor at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, since 2005.