Joseph Beuys (German: [ˈjoːzɛf ˈbɔʏs]; 12 May 1921 – 23 January 1986) was a German Fluxus, happening, and performance artist as well as a sculptor, installation artist, graphic artist, art theorist, and pedagogue.

His extensive work is grounded in concepts of humanism, social philosophy and anthroposophy; it culminates in his “extended definition of art” and the idea of social sculpture as a gesamtkunstwerk, for which he claimed a creative, participatory role in shaping society and politics. His career was characterized by open public debates on a very wide range of subjects including political, environmental, social and long term cultural trends. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential artists of the second half of the 20th century.


Only on condition of a radical widening of definitions will it be possible for art and activities related to art [to] provide evidence that art is now the only evolutionary-revolutionary power, Joseph Beuys

The documentary Beuys will not only offer a psychological portrait of the man, but chronicle the many ways he sought to reverse the effects of our repressive social systems — and how his breakthroughs continue to influence artists today.

The groundbreaking German sculptor and performance artist Joseph Beuys, who died in 1986, was no shrinking violet. He staged numerous art happenings, such as the 1965 work How to Explain Paintings to a Dead Hare, for which he caked his entire head in honey and gold leaf and cradled the eponymous creature while whispering lovingly in its ear. Nine years later, an animal took a more active part when Beuys was placed in a room in New York with a coyote for several days for I Like America and America Likes Me. He had only a shepherd’s crook to defend himself once the animal started ripping at his protective felt covering.

Film Forum in Manhattan will start showing the documentary film starting January 17th.

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