Joseph Beuys

Post image for Putting the ‘No’ in ‘Nostalgia’

This show at James Fuentes, instigated by various artists associated with an exhibition in 1980 called The Real Estate Show, is a reconstruction of a spontaneous action that began in late 1979.

Continue Reading →
Post image for ‘Paweł Althamer: The Neighbors’ at the New Museum

A few blocks east of the New Museum’s skyward stack, a small gallery recently closed a provocative show focused on the final years of Joseph Beuys, the forefather of social sculpture. Though Beuys’ legacy in the social practice(s) of art is as manifold as it is contested, few have assumed his mantle as directly as the Polish sculptor Pawel Althamer.

Continue Reading →
Post image for Final Ascent: Joseph Beuys and the Languages of Art

Mention Joseph Beuys’ name and the usual iconic gestures come to mind. But if you dig beneath the surface, even a little, you’ll discover how ultimately alien his art really is.

Continue Reading →
Post image for ‘Joseph Beuys: Process 1971–1985’ at Rooster Gallery

“Socio-economic illumination, enabled by the evolutionary process of thought, was Beuys’ end-goal,” writes Kara L. Rooney in her substantial catalogue essay for Joseph Beuys: Process 1971–1985, the small but ambitious show she’s curated at the similarly disposed Rooster Gallery on Orchard Street.

Continue Reading →
Post image for The Nazi Ties of Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys is a canonical postwar artist, but was he really as progressive and enlightened as we’ve come to believe, and as he led us to think? A new biography of the artist, written by German-born Swiss author Hans Peter Riegel, kicks up the age-old debate about the separation of the artist and the art by contending that Beuys was actually a dedicated follower of the occultist and racist ideas propagated by philosopher Rudolf Steiner, and that he hung out with quite a few former Nazis.

Continue Reading →
Post image for Joseph Beuys Likes New Wave and New Wave Likes Him

When I hear of German performance artist Joseph Beuys, I think of felt, fat and riding in an ambulance to live in a New York apartment with a coyote in “I Like America and America Likes Me.” I certainly don’t think of a hilarious attempt at New Wave pop.

Continue Reading →
Post image for WTF is… Performance Art?

You may have heard that James Franco and Lady Gaga are performance artists, that their careers themselves are art objects built up over a lifetime. You may also believe that your Uncle Bob farting the alphabet is performance art. And maybe it is! Really, it’s up to you, there’s no quick and easy chart to tell what is performance art and what isn’t. Nevertheless, there are a few guidelines to follow when defining performance, in the context of the medium’s history as well as its current practice. Despite what you’ve heard, there are good reasons that getting carried into the Grammys in an egg isn’t really an act of performance art.

Continue Reading →

YouTube star and art-world explainer Hennesy Youngman records a rant about artists’ personal mythologies, the tall tales that serve as the background for many art superstars. Besides a lesson in hagiography, this video serves up an awesome comparison of myth-making practices between rapper Jay-Z and artist Joseph Beuys.

Continue Reading →
Minecraft as Social Sculpture

One of protean German artist Joseph Beuys’ most famous quotes runs, “Everyone is an artist.” Framed within the artist’s idea of “social sculpture,” a conceptual practice in which our lived world forms a gigantic work of art and individuals become artists in its context, the quote makes sense. The wandering artist spent his time creating sculptures out of society, reshaping thought structures through performances, lectures, and physical objects, working with his fellow human-artists to remake our universe moment to moment. In the present day, I’d rephrase Beuys’ maxim: On the internet, we’re all artists.

One particular online video game, called Minecraft, brings to mind for me the essence of being an artist in the world, presenting a chance for everyone to fulfill Beuys’ definition of Social Sculpture. Where does Social Sculpture meet Social Media?

Continue Reading →